Published by : Paul E. Lafleur
Coaching is one of the sales manager’s most important roles, making it an activity which they must spend a good amount of time doing.
The most common mistakes made by sales managers during their coaching sessions can effectively be summarized by this : confusing sales coaching with sales training.
While training remains vital to your team’s success, it’s important to understand that the process, as well as the techniques, are different than the ones used during effective coaching sessions.
Here are 3 mistakes that lead sales managers to train their rep instead of coaching them.
Mistake #1 : Using your mouth more than your ears
The truth is, if you’re talking more than you’re listening, your rep is no doubt losing a precious learning opportunity.
These sessions should take effect with this one goal in mind : to allow the rep, through carefully asked questions, to arrive to a solution on their own. Your job, then, is to provide the right open-ended questions which will guide the rep to a solution for the issue they’re experiencing.
Many coaches will fall into education mode five minutes into the session. Whether well-intentioned, or a sign of impatience, resorting to telling the rep how and what to do robs them of the chance to come up with the right answer by themselves.
Why is this so important, and why does it always come back to this point ? It’s important because this is how human beings learn the most, this is how knowledge sticks ! Smart people are generally capable, through brainstorming, to come up with the right answer to a question.
A sales coach must facilitate these brainstorming sessions by asking the right questions, letting the rep come up with their ideas, and guiding them when necessary.
Mistake #2 : Shying away from role play!
Without a doubt, the very first time a rep does role play will be an uncomfortable moment for them. They might lack confidence, they may be afraid to look stupid, to provide the wrong solutions to different scenarios, etc.
A sales coach must create an environment of security around the coaching sessions so that the rep isn’t afraid to provide the wrong solutions during role play.
You should encourage, even push role play on your reps ! We get better through repetition. Like with anything in life we don’t enjoy doing, the trick is to do it over and over again. That way we get better at it, we get confident, and suddenly we understand what we’re gaining from it.
Mistake #3 : Staying in your comfort zones
The secret to success, in any field or activity, is pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones !
Sales managers should, every once in a while, do some introspection on their coaching abilities. If you find your coaching sessions aren’t bringing in the results you’d expected, perhaps your techniques should be re-examined.
Are you uncomfortable with role play ? Do you have the same fears as your rep, and are letting your insecurities lead your coaching ? Are you stagnant in your comfort zone, afraid to venture out of it ?
If this is the case, perhaps it would explain why sales managers have the tendency to quickly switch from coaching to education mode.
Confusing training with coaching is a great weakness for a sales manager. If the hat fits, you must overcome this very rapidly or else you will never become a good sales manager.
Coaching sessions are beneficial only if, and when, a rep gets the chance to confidently express themselves verbally and through role play.