Why sales coaching isn’t a job for HR

Sales coaching is an important job for a sales manager. Yet, research from CSO Insights and the AA-ISP shows that less than 20 percent of the average sales leader’s time is spent on proactive coaching.

Why sales coaching isn't a job for HRIn fact, the majority of a sales leader’s time is spent on administrative tasks and attending internal meetings. They have very little time to make sure the team is actually achieving their goals, and sales coaching often gets to pushed to the human resources department

Does that even make sense? Your sales manager’s job is to reach revenue goals by ensuring reps achieve quota. In their best-selling book, Cracking the Sales Management Code,” Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana compare sales executives with war generals handing out battle plans.

“Salespeople may be the foot soldiers out fighting the war, but sales managers are the ones equipping them for battle and giving them their marching orders. And an unprepared soldier doesn’t stand a fighting chance against a worthy adversary,” they write.

Sales coaching is a form of marching orders. And you cannot leave it with the untrained platoon leaders in your HR department. Here’s why.

3 reasons sales coaching is management’s responsibility

1. Sales coaching has high ROI.

According to research, high-quality coaching can improve performance for the core of your sales team by 19 percent. In addition, studies from the Sales Leadership Council show that sales coaching provides much more ROI than any other productivity investment.

You simply cannot afford mediocre sales coaching. It’s too important. So why would you leave it in the hands of someone outside your sales organization? Sales coaching is a job for sales managers, who (hopefully) have years of experience in sales. Many of them were promoted to management because they succeeded as sellers – who better to coach the rest of your team than a top-performer?

2. Sales coaching focuses on sales activities.

You can’t coach someone around things like bookings, win rate or market share. Those are business results: outcomes of the day-to-day activities of your sales team. You can influence outcomes with specific activities like writing better proposals and creating better account plans. But you can’t manage them.

That’s why sales coaching must focus on sales activities. To achieve your desired outputs, you need to drive the right inputs. Sales leaders have to define the key selling activities for their team, assign metric goals for them, then coach reps around them. Your HR department doesn’t know your sales process like you do. They aren’t monitoring and measuring the day-to-day activities of reps. How could they make informed decisions on who needs coaching, and on what?

3. Good sales coaching is supported by technology.

Sales managers who provide reps with technology that guides their activities create better coaching opportunities. That’s according to a report from the Aberdeen Group.

“Companies with better knowledge management capabilities in hand, supported by technology platforms that collect and distribute both materials and tactics, are more likely to put not only better coaching opportunities in front of their reps, but also more impactful crowd-sourced learnings from sales peer groups,” the report says.

Software tools like sales activity management create better sales coaching opportunities by automatically measuring sales activities and calculating pacing to goals. These tools help reps focus on their most critical selling behaviors and allows sales managers to course-correct performance in real time. But these resources belong within your sales organization. Shipping them off to HR creates disparate systems that lack a central repository for coaching data. How can you coach consistently when information is stored in silos?

These are powerful reasons for managers to be in charge of sales coaching. To put it simply: Sales managers are in the trenches with the rest of your sales organization. It must be their job to guide the foot soldiers.

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