Sales managers aren’t born coaches!
At virtually every company I’ve ever worked for, people are promoted to become sales managers on the basis of their selling track record not their ability to manage and coach a team.
Knowing how to sell a company’s products and services is obviously a prerequisite to being able to guide and teach other salespeople to sell more effectively. But on its own, it’s not enough. In common with management roles elsewhere in a business, sales managers need to be able to develop their teams and ensure they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform.
Managing a sales team by looking at each rep’s pipeline every month and firing those who don’t meet quota isn’t a recipe for long term success!
I’m seeing more and more emphasis on coaching, and providing sales managers with the tools to do this effectively.
A technique that has emerged to prominence in the last couple of years is the use of video coaching. The Learning Management / Sales Enablement (LMSE) system sends out a series of tasks to sales people that get them to practice particular customer interactions.
Typically, the assignment will include a video to be watched by the salesperson as an example of best practice – it could be an exploratory conversation with a new prospect, for example. The salesperson then has to record themselves undertaking the same customer interaction with automated prompts from the system.
The recording is then routed back to the person’s sales manager who will provide feedback and guidance – often watching the recorded interaction together with the salesperson.
Further, the best recordings captured for a particular assignment can be shared across the sales team as additional examples of best practice – with prizes awarded to the relevant salespeople.
Designed correctly, sales playbooks can both inform and guide salespeople in what to ask, say and do at each step in the sales process. The latest interactive, digital playbooks can take this a step further.
Digital playbooks can provide built-in tools to help salespeople prepare, in a structured way, for the conversation they want to have with a particular prospect at an upcoming call, meeting or demo. This thinking is stored as data in the cloud, so other people can view and contribute to it.
For a sales manager, having visibility over exactly how each member of their team is preparing for calls and meetings is gold dust! They can incorporate a review of a salesperson’s preparation for their most important upcoming meetings into regular coaching sessions – providing feedback and input to help the sales person have the most impactful conversations possible.
My next blog examines the thorny issue of sales people creating their own, customized slide decks. Check out the previous posts from my “Driving Success from Sales Enablement Investments” blog series below.