Coaching gets a lot of press these days. It’s not just hype. 

All salespeople need coaching from their sales managers, just as elite athletes need it from their coaches.

The difference is that elite athletes realize that coaching is essential for them to compete at the highest level.

Most salespeople on the other hand, typically haven’t received coaching throughout their careers, so they don’t recognize the value it can provide to their success.

Here’s the rub:

  • Most sales leaders aren’t able to dedicate the amount of time to coaching salespeople that they’d like, nor that salespeople need.
  • Many salespeople have what’s known as self-serving bias. An example of this is they attribute winning a deal or making quota to their hard work and exceptional selling skills. But when they lose a deal or miss quota, it’s due to the lousy leads from marketing or other external forces. 

So if sales leaders lack the time to coach, and salespeople don’t appreciate the value of coaching, it’s no wonder that the amount of sales leader to salesperson coaching is lacking in most B2B organizations.

Let’s start with the sales leader side of the equation:

If sales leaders don’t have time to coach their salespeople, the typical reasons are (in order):

  • Senior sales leadership is not committed to the value of coaching
  • The sales leader span of control is too large
  • You have a sales leader that doesn’t understand herself the importance of coaching, or she would make the time for it.
  • You have a sales leader that may not know how to coach, as they may not have received coaching themselves.

On the salesperson side of the equation:

If salespeople don’t prioritize time to seek and receive coaching, the typical reasons are (in order):

  • They don’t realize when and in what areas they need coaching
  • The salesperson may not be confident in asking for coaching (especially if they are tenured salespeople)
  • They may view coaching as a remedial, instead of as an opportunity to hone and acquire new skills.

So where do we start?

We start with the sales leader. No matter how much a salesperson wants or needs coaching, salespeople won’t get coaching unless the sales leaders find time to coach.

How do we help the sales leader find time to coach? We start by coaching the sales leader. What most companies overlook is that most sales leaders need coaching before they can coach salespeople.

Getting sales leaders coaching is not a one-off, short term initiative. Sales leaders should receive regular coaching to help them address their areas of improvement, but also how to coach their salespeople.

Managing is all about telling and directing toward a specific outcome.Coaching involves exploring, facilitating, guiding, and long-term improvement toward many possible outcomes.

It all starts with the sales manager. If your salespeople need more coaching, get coaching for your sales managers first. 

And, no, Coaching is not a city in China.

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