The Sales Manager outlined the structure he used in each one on one meeting. He met with each rep for one hour per week. “It’s critical time where I get to develop and groom them. If they don’t have the skills to close a top account, I’ve failed.”
“Okay,” I hesitated, “Can you tell me how often your boss, the VP of Sales, coaches you?” The manager thought hard. “Hmmm…besides the annual training events and pipeline calls, never”.
This manager isn’t alone. 74% of sales departments lack a formalized coaching program for managers. 68% lack a post-onboarding training program. As the VP of Sales, you are responsible for ensuring your lieutenants mentor and evolve their people. To do this, you must mentor them. No less than 60% of your time should be spent coaching your managers. Download this VP of Sales Coaching Kit to get started.
For the VP of Sales, coaching should take place in three ways:
1. One on One Coaching Sessions
2. Field Ride-Alongs
3. Rep Opportunity Review Sit-Ins
Here’s what to do for each of these phases:
One on One Coaching Sessions: This is the most critical meeting to ensure manager development. It’s your time to demonstrate your commitment to their success. During these calls the VP should:
- Understand the manager’s current issues
- Provide best practices to coach and motivate their teams
- Reinforce the company’s current projects and check for adoption
- Assign action items to help them improve on their skills and competencies
- Follow up on these action items to show you are serious
Don’t blow these meetings off. Great reps don’t become great without guidance and instruction. The same goes for your managers. Click here for our VP of Sales Manager Coaching Outline.
Field Ride-Alongs: Ask your manager to arrange a Sales Call with you, herself, and one of her reps. Observe how the manager interacts with sales rep. Does she ask tactical and strategic questions about the account? Does she help the rep plan the call ahead of time? What feedback does she give the rep at the end of the call? Your job in these sessions is not to close the deal. It’s to demonstrate how to provide feedback to the rep. By doing this, your manager’s sessions will become more productive. Your reps will grow while you are away.
Rep Opportunity Review Sit-Ins: Instead of the inadequate “Pipeline Meeting”, have your Rep bring an active opportunity to review. The purpose of this meeting for you is to
- See if the manager can find potential knowledge or skill gaps of the rep
- Assess the manager’s ability to provide advice to increase the Sales Call effectiveness
- Ensure that the manager is challenging the rep on issues, not just accepting answers
The Opportunity Sit-In is where strategy meets actual call tactics. Deal strategy and guidance is a fundamental managerial skill. Without this instruction, your reps will do whatever they are most comfortable with. Download our VP of Sales Toolkit for a framework on questions the manager should ask during these sessions.
A VP of Sales who coaches his managers demonstrates three things:
- The Importance of Training and Development: Want your managers to know that you take skills development and training seriously? Show them you mean it by holding yourself accountable as well. Coaching and mentoring are a waterfall. Your habits will become theirs.
- The Commitment to Initiatives: All managers insist that the latest project is important. But when it comes to reinforcement, many step away and expect their managers to implement it. Show your commitment to the field by following up on new initiatives. Address obstacles and capture quick wins. Your follow-through will increase the odds of success.
- Their Ability To Stay Focused On the Things That Matter: Many Sales VPs try to be the “Super Rep” VP who chases top deals across the country. Managers are no different. If you have a well-prepared team, put your faith in them. Get out of the weeds. Stop scrambling from deal to deal. Put pressure on your managers to develop their team’s skills. Put the pressure on yourself to develop your managers.
A Sales VP’s success isn’t measured by stepping in to close big deals or to provide theoretical strategy. It’s to ensure that your team, from Senior Managers to Inside Sales Reps, can execute without you. Download our VP of Sales Coaching Kit to ensure your managers and reps continue to evolve.