What’s one of the most important things about being a sales manager? That’s easy. Mentoring your sales reps by providing coaching and feedback. So why do so many sales managers, especially first-time sales managers, struggle with this?
I can understand the first-time sales manager. Unless you have had good managers, read sales management books, kept up with sales management best practices or had a mentor, you probably have no clue what good coaching looks like.
With the amount of information at our fingertips, I sometimes find this hard to believe and wonder if it is a will or a skill thing. You could not possibly get promoted if you are lazy, so what’s going on?
Maybe sales management does not see it as a priority.
Sales managers are held accountable for their team’s quota and they move heaven and earth to make that happen. Meeting or exceeding the number is the most important thing a sales manager can do for their team. Whatever it takes.
But is that a sustainable model? Can a sales manager be everywhere? Doing everything?
Now, I am not saying it’s not important to meet or exceed your quota. It is. But it is how we get there that is important. And, if you do not coach and provide feedback to your sales reps, then how do they know what good looks like and, more importantly, how do we make them better?
You were promoted to sales manager because management believed you could get the job done. But there is only so much time in the day. You cannot possibly work every deal, close every deal, go to meetings, travel, provide reports to management – you get the drill. Here are 4 ways to make coaching and feedback a priority:
- Understand the outcome. As a sales manager, the only way to know if a meeting is a good one is if the outcome initially set was met. Provide your team with insights on relevant and attainable outcomes to ensure success in all meetings and presentations. Your coaching can also help accelerate momentum as well as stretch sales reps a bit into areas where they are not as comfortable.
- Do it in the moment. If you go to a meeting with one of your sales reps, after the meeting, ask them what they believe went well and what they may have done differently. Then provide your coaching and feedback based on your observations.
- Treat them as individuals. What worked for you may not work for each of your sales reps. Remember they are individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, experiences and expertise. Treat them as such.
- Focus on what’s important. Many first-time managers nitpick, driving sales reps crazy with their input and making it difficult to understand what they should truly focus on. I coach people to think 5 to 1: 5 positive pieces of feedback to 1 area of improvement. It may not be exactly 5 to 1, but you get the point. Be kind and focus your coaching and feedback on the most important areas that require change.
Coaching and feedback may seem like it takes more time, in the moment, but in the end it will save you a ton of time and give you back the time to strategize, focus and enable you to meet or exceed your number. And, equally important, your sales reps will respect you for taking the time to make them better – and help them make or exceed their quota.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter