article | January 5, 2012
How to Improve Sales Rep Performance: Replace Managing with Coaching
Based on the latest research, its clear that most managers are failing to coach effectively. A majority of reps report that managers do not provide support to help them improve performance. Unfortunately, many managers transfer all accountability to their reps for missed objectives. The problem is that managers don’t understand how to effectively coach reps to drive improved performance. How could they? Most companies lack effective training for sales managers. Companies operate under the rationale that promoting successful reps is enough for success as a manager.
In the past the typical scenario that managers fell into is to review a sales report and state the obvious to their rep; “you’re not meeting your revenue objective”. This is often followed with “coaching” to sell more!
Today with improved reporting, managers receive sales reports and state….” you’re not meeting your revenue objective, and you are not meeting your goals with existing or new customers”. (We’ve improved our ability to isolate the problem) This would be followed with “coaching” to sell more to existing customers, and to sell more new business. Captain Obvious rears his ugly head and tells their rep how successful they were when they were a rep. The conversations are devoid of substaintive skills development.
In more advanced sales organizations, managers focus on the specific sales activities (or lack of) that are leading to missed objectives. Their ability to identify the problem seems to obsolve them of the responsibility of missing the objective, and transfer the blame to the sales rep who is “not able” to meet expectations of the position. End result…fire the rep…hire someone who can perform!
In order to understand if sales management is responsible, there are two metrics that can provide insight into the effectiveness of your management team:
Quantity of coaching is an easy metric to track and should show that your sales managers are spending at least 60% of their time in coaching, observation, and sales training activities. If your managers are not able to devote this much time, you may want to review how they are spending their time and delegate non-coaching time to someone else. Quality of coaching is more difficult to measure, but can be done via direct feedback from the sales reps on a regular basis. The use of 360 feedback surveys can be used, but should be triangulated with other measurements to establish an effectiveness score that shows a “relative” rating in developing talent.
If your sales managers are hitting the mark on these metrics, you should feel good about the level of support, training and development your sales reps are receiving to improve performance. If not, consider using these metrics to improve sales coaching and rep development.
Come to our webinar on January 12th for a better understanding of how to effectively staff your salesforce for 2012.