Coaching must occur at all organizational levels, including sales management.
As the head of sales, one of your primary jobs is to remove obstacles and alleviate pain points for the frontline sales managers on your team. Empowering them creates buy-in and lets them know that you care about their success.
Communicate to your managers that you are there to support them. Have one-on-one sessions with each of your managers for either 30 minutes every week or 60 minutes every other week. This allows you and your manager to take a step back and discuss how their job is going overall. Some managers might ask for help with specific coaching skills or managing a particular rep. Others might need broader assistance in areas like internal communication or time management.
Let your managers guide the conversation, but use the questions below to create a consistent agenda for sales management coaching sessions.
Questions to use when coaching sales management
Question 1 for sales management: What’s working right now, and what’s getting in your way?
This is a simple and great way to open up your meeting and just let the manager talk. You want to know where they feel they are strong so you can uncover best practices that may help others, as well as find out what’s getting in their way.
It’s amazing how often obstacles are things the manager is able to overcome themselves with your assistance on setting priorities. Someone might say that finding time to coach their reps is an obstacle. That’s a chance for you to teach them how to run more efficient coaching sessions that won’t take as much time. Someone else might say they’re getting buried in service issues, which can be an opportunity to coach them to stay involved but to work with and trust your support team.
Question 2 for sales management: How are your team’s key deals and pipeline?
You’re responsible for the entire company’s sales numbers, so you obviously need to make sure your sales managers are going to hit their team quota.
Review the key opportunities your manager and her reps are working on for this month and this quarter. Strategize with them on what looks good in each deal and what is still needed to win. This provides good opportunities to coach around account planning and execution, which your managers can then use to coach their reps.
Next, assess the pipeline. Is there enough in the middle of their funnel to hit quota three months from now? If so, great! Ask the manager to analyze which deals they think are very likely to close. This is a good place to coach them around avoiding happy ears. If the team doesn’t have enough opportunities in their pipeline, help the manager figure out what top-of-funnel activities she and her reps need to perform.
Question 3 for sales management: How is your team’s activity, and what is your coaching plan?
Sales is a cascading chain of correlated activities that lead to a defined income, which is why assessing the manager’s team at the activity level is so significant. Many teams rely on a sales scorecard to manually track activity metrics. A sales activity management system automatically tracks them for you, in addition to tracking pace to goal and alerting managers when metrics fall behind.
Review activity metric performance against goals. Identify what activities the manager’s reps are struggling with or which part of the sales process they consistently get stuck at. Ask them how they plan to coach their reps around this. Educate them on different strategies, if needed. Sales coaching is how your managers course-correct performance that falls out of line, so you need to empower them with resources to be olympic-level coaches.