Sales Managers! Are you making these 5 critical coaching mistakes?

4 minute read

In my last post, The 7 Habits of Insanely Successful Sales Managers, I talked about the common mistake of dedicating too little time to coaching. The truth is, most sales managers don’t employ a consistent coaching practice in their business. In fact, 73% of sales managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching. Which is mind-boggling, as there is no more important skill or activity for a sales manager than coaching your people.

Are you one of the 27% of sales managers who invests more than 5% of your time coaching? Great if you are. You’re in a minority, but if you’re avoiding the critical coaching mistakes listed below, you should reap the benefits down the line.

Coaching your team to become selling superstars takes more than just time and attention. You’ve got to spend that time doing the right things. To get on track, make sure you’re avoiding these five sales coaching mistakes.

1. Just telling them what to do

“Tell me and I forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your aim is to empower your people. To bring out the best in them. To turn them into confident, effective, self-managing sales dynamos.

This takes more than just telling. Like the great man Franklin said, ‘tell me and I forget’. For every new lesson or skill, or mistake you want unlearned, devise ways to first show them the right path. And then, even better, have your reps carry it out during an extended coaching process, with a high quality feedback system. Show and involve them right from go.

2. Treating them all the same

Effective coaching is all about the individual. It’s not about you. And it’s certainly not about you trying to make your job as easy as possible by creating some generalised coaching program which everyone can just follow, like robots.

To coach, you have to patiently spend time with each member of your team. Uncover their personal strengths and weaknesses. Work on those. You’ll see, this personal attention seems to take more time, but in fact gets incredible results for your time. It’s 10 times more effective than the lazy ‘one size fits all’ coaching methodology.

3. Throwing the kitchen sink at them

When you start to get personal, you will naturally avoid this next common mistake. Too many sales coaches throw a big list of things to work on at their people, all at once. Leaving them overwhelmed and demoralised, unsure where to start.

As you identify the key areas of improvement for each individual on your team, find the most impactful one or two things for them to work on. And then only have them work on those, for as long as it takes, until they show consistently positive results. Then, and only then, add to that list.

4. Not getting the rep’s complete buy-in

Coaching is inspiring your rep to become their best. That takes driven, internal drive for change. You can’t sit back on your laurels and tell yourself the job is done just because you did all the right coaching things on paper.

As you get to individually know all your reps, you have to find out what motivates them. Get them on board with your program. When you step away they should shoot off in the right direction, self-driven like the Energiser Bunny on Red Bull.

Remember, the real progress happens in between coaching sessions, not during them.

5. Focusing too much on the negatives

“A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.” – Ara Parasheghian

When you identify a weakness in one of your people, your job is to have them replace that weakness with a new skill. Not just to tell them about that weakness.

Having a long list of your shortfalls laid out before you is demoralising. If you want to turn your rep into an empowered, quick-closing superstar, picture what that end result requires. Then focus on those skills, and more importantly, bring the focus of your rep onto those desired skills too.

As they move forward with their eye on a clear goal, they will feel positive and motivated. Their weaknesses and old bad habits will be dropped, discarded and forgotten, by the roadside.

And in the same way, if you can discard these five critical coaching mistakes by focusing on the right behaviours, you’ll benefit from having a skillful, knowledgeable and resourceful team all equipped to meet their targets (and yours).

Can you think of any more sales coaching mistakes?

Please comment below and share!

If you enjoyed this article, I strongly recommend you check out these related posts:

Sales Coaching Doesn’t Help The Extremes: 10 Guidelines

The Value & Challenge of Sales Coaching

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