A Full Plate – Here’s Why Sales Managers Don’t Spend More Time Coaching Their Teams.

Research shows that effective sales coaching is the number one way to improve an organization’s performance.

“In rating the impact of a wide range of initiatives on sales effectiveness, sales coaching was rated the highest-impact activity among survey respondents,” says one study by The Sales Management Association.

And organizations that train their sales managers to be effective coaches tend to perform head and shoulders above those that don’t. A report by CSO Insights points out that, “…year after year, our studies show the correlation between sales management skills and quota attainment.” 

Yet, it’s not just skills that have an impact on performance. The frequency and amount of coaching provided by a sales manager directly correlates with performance statistics too. Essentially, organizations whose sales managers coach more achieve a higher bottom line. 

The Sales Management Association Study puts it this way, “…High performing firms provide more frequent coaching. In fact, high performing firms provide 15 to 20% more coaching compared to other firms, and do so across all salesperson types…” 

And yet, with such proven numbers on the table, sales managers simply don’t spend real time coaching their teams. In fact, research shows that over 47 percent of sales managers spend less than 30 minutes a week coaching reps on skills and behaviors.

If it is so vital to an organization’s success, why are sales managers spending so little time coaching their teams? 

The Challenge

First, sales managers are overwhelmed – buried under an onslaught of tasks across several departments. 

“…it’s a frantic pace, with unpredictable drivers creating situations that call for snap decisions,” says one report describing a sales managers’ job, by the research division of the Miller Heiman Group.

A sales manager’s job is overwhelming to say the least. And this overload of responsibilities makes getting the job done increasingly difficult. 

Sales managers tend to have large teams, with complex roles. They have highly demanding goals, and they have to answer to several departments, from operations to finance, product management, to learning & development. 

Yet, the challenge doesn’t stop there. Another key reason sales managers spend so little time coaching is that they simply aren’t prepared to do so. And that lack of preparation matters.

“It’s important to recognize that in order to succeed, sales managers need coaching also,” points out an article by Lauren Shepard of Brain Shark.

Sales managers are hit by a one-two punch: lack of time, and lack of training. They are, to put it simply, overwhelmed and underdeveloped.

Mary Shea, principal analyst with Forrester Research, puts it this way, “most sales organizations don’t do coaching at all – and part of that is because they’re not enabling their managers to do so. Their managers don’t have time, or they don’t know how to do it.”

A combined overwhelming task load and lack of preparation means sales managers aren’t enabled to do the one thing that matters most: lead their salespeople to high performance. 

And of course, leadership is critical to success. As CSO Insights points out, “salespeople require leadership and coaching to release their full potential.”

And there’s the gap. 

Sales managers aren’t dedicating time to coach their teams because they are both too busy, and don’t have the skills to do so. They are underdeveloped, overwhelmed, and that combination is creating a major loss for the organizations they serve. 

“Our research shows that unless sales organizations invest in developing their sales managers, they have little to no chance of achieving even average sales performance KPIs,” says CSO Insights

A Look at the Numbers…

Here are some striking statistics that demonstrate the importance of effective coaching, and the current lack of resources invested in sales manager training: 

  • 75 percent of sales organizations waste resources due to random and informal coaching approaches
  • Formal or even dynamic coaching helped more salespeople achieve their quota by 10 percent 
  • Over 60 percent of salespeople are more likely to leave their job if their manager is a poor coach 
  • Companies with dynamic coaching programs achieve 28 percent higher win rates
  • Over 47 percent of sales managers spend less than 30 minutes a week coaching sales representatives on skills and behaviors
  • Firms that provide an optimal amount of coaching realize 16.7 percent of greater annual revenue growth

There’s no question that great sales coaching from a highly trained sales manager has the power not only to transform high performing teams, but to increase the bottom line for organizations. 

The Bigger Question: How Can This Change?

So, how do we simplify the coaching process, enhance its effectiveness, and finally, increase performance?

According to a study by the Sales Management Association, “in high-performing firms, sales coaching programs are likely to include coaching for managers (not just sales people), training for coaches, executive leadership endorsement, and inclusion of coaching effectiveness in manager appraisal.” 

It’s true. High performing teams tend to be led by highly trained coaches – sales managers who are deeply – and continuously – prepared for the tasks ahead, who have incentives to drive them forward, tools to measure performance, and the skills to leverage the time available to them. 

Graham Scrivener, MD of Forum EMEA, points out, “…managers who are measured and incentivised for their coaching success will be encouraged to integrate it into their daily management routine, as long as they’re given the right skills and tools to do it effectively.” 

So, in order for organizations to thrive, teams must thrive, and in order for teams to thrive, sales managers must have the resources to thrive too.

They need effective, incentivising training that provides actionable goals, powerful strategies, and ways to measure success; training that helps them adapt to their overwhelming jobs, and perform at the highest level possible.

Unlocking Your Organization’s Potential

At Michigan & Manchester, we help sales managers define real, actionable goals; measure their results; refine their strategies; and become the kind of inspirational, effective, game-changing coaches that empower teams, and transform sales.

Through a friendly, easy-to-use, and flexible tool, sales managers are given the skills to quickly rise above challenges, overcome ever-tightening time constraints, and gain the resources to launch their organizations to the next level. 

All this, because when leaders perform, teams succeed. And when teams succeed, organizations thrive.

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