Posted by Brian Lambert on October 11, 2011
Technology vendors continue to focus on implementing sales coaching programs. I'm finding that sales coaching programs mostly focus on providing sales managers the skills they need to be more "coach-like" with their reps. When you step back and look at what kind of skills sales managers need to be more coaching oriented, you end up with a broad ranging list like objectively assessing reps and where they're at, or clearly defining future rep behaviors, or using technology to help inform sales coaching decisions. Along with this focus on skills, some sales coaching programs focus on defining the critical elements of each sales coaching conversation (like increased relevance, giving developmental feedback, and providing motivation). Yet, despite these efforts, the sales enablement professionals we talk to share their frustration that sales coaching doesn't quite take off with frontline sales managers like they were expecting.
For example, in one technology vendor, sales coaching didn't take off despite sales coaching training, top-down sales leader support, and feedback from reps demanding more coach-like interactions with their managers. In another technology vendor, it seemed massive communications and sales coaching training efforts were a non-starter (and dare I say it, dead on arrival). Why is that? Why are technology vendors seemingly doing the right things, but not getting the traction they expect?
It seems that one critical and often overlooked aspect of helping sales coaches be more successful is the ability to help coaches get started: 1) defining their sales coaching approach, and 2) starting each and every interaction with reps in a valuable and meaningful way, especially when those interactions are around previously identified sales coaching scenarios.
Overcoming these two challenges is the subject of my latest research report on helping sales coaches prioritize their efforts for sales results. In this report, interviews with 35 sales enablement professionals uncovered the pattern that helping coaches like frontline sales managers get started with sales coaching behavior requires a structured approach to helping coaches prioritize their efforts and identify their own unique sales coaching style. Additionally, we found that helping sales coaches understand how to identify opportunities for sales coaching conversations, as well as get started quickly with those sales coaching conversations, helps sales coaching become the "new normal" where sales coaching is not viewed as yet another management activity. Check it out by reading the report below, and let me know what you think.