Why Sales Managers Make Lousy Sales Coaches

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Posted: February 5, 2016

Top  producers get promoted to sales management because of their ability to source, sell and close business. These individuals are also good team players, optimistic and great at building relationships.

So, with all these wonderful attributes, why are so many sales managers such lousy sales coaches?

Most sales managers get set up to fail. They have not learned the No. 1 skill to develop their sales team:  the ability to transfer the knowledge, skills and habits that made them a top producer.  It’s called teaching, training and coaching, which are different skills than selling and closing business.   

Here’s one key principle that will help you become a better coach: Understand and know the difference between training and coaching. 

Training is imparting knowledge. Coaching is testing to see if the knowledge has landed and can be applied. 

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Here’s a classic example. The sales manager has taught his sales team the top 10 compelling and customized questions to ask during a sales call. He watches a sales meeting with a new prospect in which the salesperson fails to ask five of the questions.  When the sales manager asks the salesperson why, she replies, “I forgot.” 

The sales manager responds to this trigger and moves into training mode, telling the salesperson, once again, which questions to ask.

Stop the madness. Your salesperson knows what to do and telling them one more time won’t change their behavior. This salesperson either has a self-limiting belief around asking questions or just isn’t buying into your way of selling and influencing. So it’s time to become the coach and get to the root cause of this poor selling behavior by asking great coaching questions. 

“Did you forget or were you uncomfortable? What makes you think the prospect is going to get upset by answering these questions? Is that based on perception or data? When you asked these questions in the past, what was the outcome? What information will you be missing in winning business if you don’t get the answer to this question?” 

 Stop telling (training) and start asking (coaching). 

There is a time to train and a time to coach. Great sales managers learn them and know the difference. 

Good Selling!