Coaching the Coaches
The question of the day is, “who’s coaching the coaches on coaching?” The reality is that there is no one coaching the coaches. That’s right. Second-line sales managers (SLM) don’t coach their front-line managers (FLM) on their coaching. They have one-on-ones, but their meetings focus on business issues, follow-up items and people issues.
The role of the FLM is to recruit, develop, and retain top sales performers. By doing these basics well, you will consistently crush your sales objectives.
If you have had no coaching training in the last year, I suggest you find a way to brush up on your coaching skills. Sales coaching is a challenging skill that very few sales managers master.
The Problem: Coaching isn’t Easy
Maybe you’re lucky. Your company has rolled out sales manager coaching training. The challenge is that training doesn’t always translate into doing. Studies show that 87% of a skill gained in training is lost within 30 days without reinforcement.
How do sales executives and enablement people ensure their investment in sales coaching training positively and sustainably impacts performance?
There are several approaches companies can take to ingrain sales coaching training. The rationale for doing so should be apparent to the reader.
It goes as such, by creating STAR sales coaches, they will develop top salespeople who will crush their sales numbers.
Would you agree that coaching is a powerful approach that helps improve all skills?
That is where coaching programs fail miserably. Without ongoing reinforcement and coaching on coaching skills, coaching rarely happens.
When I hear sales management gurus point out that sales managers are poor coaches, we must be mindful that much of the blame should be on the SLM.
To accelerate your sales, FLMS must get coached on their coaching skills.
Possible Solutions to Develop Master Coaches
- Any coaching training must include the second-line sales managers. If you are the training manager, you must insist that the next level of sales management must also actively take the training. Otherwise, as I have stated, your training will be a complete waste of time and money.
- Set the expectation that SLMs are coaching their FLMs. There is an expectation that FLMs allocate a minimum number of days for in-field coaching. I recommend that SLMs allocate a minimum of one hour per month to coach their FLMs on coaching. This should include discussions on coaching plans and the progress of their salespeople. Discussions should also focus on coaching their top and bottom performers.
- Appoint/hire an external sales coach to work with the first- and second-line sales managers to ensure they can implement the coaching training effectively. Given the positive impact of coaching on performance and engagement, investing in external coaching for your FLMs and SLMs to ensure they are effectively coaching and developing their people is an innovative approach to answer the question, “who is coaching the coaches on coaching?”
An important part of creating a coaching culture is that front-line sales managers must be coached to become highly effective coaches.