Can a Sales Coach Help Your Team?

From the keyboard of Doug Cowan  |  August, 2013.

Many companies are beginning to use outside resources to coach their sales teams. Even though this action carries additional cost, it can be a very effective way to improve sales performance of key individuals on the team.

Typically, coaching is considered the responsibility and duty of the sales manager. Arguably, it is the most important thing a sales manager can do to develop the sales talent that he or she is responsible for. It is a time to strengthen sales skills, point out and correct poor execution, and build good habits.

Sales Coaching  takes  a commitment of time, a good understanding of sales process, follow-up, and reinforcement to do well. Some experts say that for each sales rep, a sales manager should spend up to half a day per week on this key activity.

In reality, coaching is generally not done well by most sales managers, and by some,  not at all. Many sales managers today simply have no time to coach. They have too many direct reports and / or too much administrative detail to handle. Unlike submitting a forecast on time, or preparing plans for next year, coaching is an invisible activity. The consequences of not doing it are not seen in today’s performance, while other deficiencies will be.

In addition to time pressures, here are some other issues:

  • Sales managers generally have not been trained to be effective coaches. They do what they have seen others do, which may or may not work.
  • Some sales managers cover sales territories themselves. This makes them questionable in their coaching role. If they are behind in their quota performance, how can they tell somebody else how to improve theirs?
  • Finally, and surprisingly, some sales managers are not strong sales people. They have their earned their position through various means that did not require them to know how to competently sell.

Outside Sales Coaches can also carry out other sales activities that sales managers may not be able to do, or may be reluctant to do:

  • They can conduct deal review sessions with small groups to improve the chance of winning key deals.
  • They can also do the dreaded ‘lost deal review’ session which can be an excellent learning tool if done properly. The use of an outside coach can reduce or eliminate the sense of criticism that often makes these sessions difficult to complete.

Consider using an outside Sales Coach if you feel any of these issues are significant to your sales organization.