Sales coaching, either as a sales manager or consultant, is a long-term goal for many sales reps.
Not only is it a natural path forward for many reps, it can also come with a nice raise and some promising career prospects. That said, sales coaching is more than just sitting back and collecting bonuses based on your reps’ productivity. Not only do you have to help your sales team resolve some of their most complex problems, you also need to coach them to success — no easy feat.
While many newly-promoted managers rise to the occasion and do quite well in their new roles, others can struggle and make mistakes that hold them (and their sales teams) back from their full potential, whether they’re aware of it or not. We wanted to highlight some of these common mistakes, so we’ve put together the following list to help identify some common sales manager pitfalls.
Here are the four most common sales coaching mistakes sales managers make:
1. Coaching too frequently, or not frequently enough
You’d be hard pressed to find a sales rep who wants to be micromanaged, but going too far in the other direction isn’t a good approach either.
Effective sales managers know how to find that sweet spot, where they can offer coaching on a regular basis without overwhelming or counterproductive for reps. A decent cadence to follow is meeting every other week, or even weekly to check in one-on-one and to work through any issues that need improvement.
Meeting once a month puts way too much time in between meetings, and meeting multiple times a week can become overwhelming, and takes time away from actual selling. Find that sweet spot, then stick to it.
2. Assuming everybody sells the same way they do
For the most part — though there are some exceptions — recently promoted sales managers were once successful sales reps. With this usually comes ingrained knowledge, and a selling style that’s typically based on what worked for them over the course of their selling career.
Unfortunately, this particular style won’t necessarily work for everybody else, so trying to get sales reps to adopt techniques or behaviors that worked for them (the sales manager) when they were selling might, at best, be a mistake, and, at worst, be impossible.
In reality, some of the personality traits that might have allowed a sales manager to succeed might not exist in certain reps, or, more likely, they might not be comfortable with the sales manager’s approach. Studies have shown that there is no single trait or personality type that can predict sales success, so it makes no sense to try to replicate a behavioral style, especially when it’s unlikely to work.
3. Coaching every rep the exact same way
Similar to the point above, sales managers must not only remember that not every sales rep is like them, they need to keep in mind that sales reps are all different from each other too. Keeping this in mind, an effective sales manager will tailor their approach to a particular rep and to their personalities, behaviors, and motivations.
A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work, unless the focus is on high-level process. When it comes to individualized selling styles, sales managers need to meet the reps where they are, instead of trying to turn them into a generic, faceless force.
4. Spending too much time focusing on the negatives
Reps get enough negativity in their job. When coaching, sales managers must be direct and constructive at the same time.
That being said, it can sometimes be tricky to correct “bad” habits without focusing too much on the negatives. Behavior that is detrimental to a rep’s ability to close deals must be addressed, and it needs to be a big focus in any coaching environment.
Effective coaching corrects mistakes, but it also inspires and motivates, helping reps become the best version of themselves. So if you’re going to coach your reps the right way, make sure you don’t spend too much time focusing on what they’ve done. By highlighting gaps as opportunities rather than errors, you’ll help build trust, respect, and help your reps to believe in themselves.
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