You plan to have a breakthrough year. You are a strong sales manager, and you know your business, your customers, and your reps. Hopefully, you have had an awesome holiday and are charged up ready to have a great year!
I don’t know any sales manager who plans to fail, but some fail to plan. The purpose of this article is to help you focus on the three sales management secrets that are going to give you the success you desire. Interestingly most sales managers tend to overlook these areas.
My promise to you is by investing an hour of your time to build your annual coaching plan you will significantly elevate the performance of your entire sales team.
My three sales management secrets for success are planning:
- How many days you plan to be in the field this year
- How many days you plan on working with each rep
- What is the one development area for each sales rep
Secret 1. Coaching Days
The most important resource for any sales manager is their time. You can hire more sales reps, you can get more marketing dollars, but you have a finite amount of time.
Many of you are probably familiar with the Stephen Covey Big Rocks demonstration. In his demonstration, Covey makes the point that if you don’t take care of your important priorities first, then your time gets filled up with the small things in your daily schedule.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I would like to reiterate that coaching is the number 1 sales management activity that drives sales performance.
As a sales manager, coaching should be your BIG Rock. As Stephen Covey says “make sure you plan for your biggest priorities first.”
Secret 2. Allocation by Sales Rep
Not all reps need the same level or amount of coaching. It is really up to the sales manager to strategically think about how they are going to allocate the number of days in the field between sales reps. The power of coaching is that regardless how effective the sales manager is at coaching, the time they spend in the field has a positive impact on sales rep performance.
According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), the biggest bang for your coaching time is with your B performers. You coach your “A” performers for engagement and retention. Coach your “B” performers to drive greater sales performance. When you do your monthly allocation of days in the field by sales rep keep this in mind.
Secret 3: One Development Area For Each Sales Rep:
Sales coaching is an art. One of the keys to success is focus. My Focused Coaching Model is built on a simple premise if you can coach a sales rep to improve their proficiency in one specific competency over the course of a year then you have done a great job.
Yes, by coaching a rep from a 6/10 to a 9/10 in an area that has a positive impact on performance you will significantly improve sales. That is why my model speaks to continuing to coach on one developmental area until there is a marked change in proficiency.
The reality is that most sales managers will coach to the flavor of the field visit. They will identify several areas for development on each field visit.
Sales managers must stay focused on coaching only one development area and ensure mastery of that area before moving onto another. The STAR Focused Coaching Planning spreadsheet has a column to input the key area for development.
As a sales manager, your time is your most important resource. The most impactful use of your time is sales coaching.
I highly recommend that sales managers take the time to build a coaching plan and allocate your coaching time before looking at any other strategic priorities.
It is not difficult, but if we don’t plan our commitment to coaching days, chances are, like every other year, coaching becomes one of the “big rocks” that get filled in once we take care of the small things that take up your day like emails, reports, and meetings.
The most successful sales manager clearly understands how they can impact the sales performance of their team and allocate their time accordingly.