Sales managers complain that their sales teams don’t listen to prospects and fail to ask questions in order to create the best solution for customers. This selling behavior often is labeled as “product dumping” or “showing up and throwing up.” (I know. Not a great visual.)
Unfortunately, too many sales managers exhibit the same behaviors when they are coaching their sales team!
I know because I’m guilty of such behavior. Here’s a classic example. A salesperson meets with the sales manager and shares his frustration about a deal that is stuck. The well-intentioned sales manager wants to help the salesperson and immediately starts dispensing sales advice rather than diagnosing the sales challenge. She moves into product dumping, prescribing solutions, rather than asking good diagnostic questions such as:
- How did we get here?
- What have you tried thus far?
- What was the business problem that needed to be solved?
- What priority did the prospect put on fixing the business problem?
- What’s the sales elephant in the room that needs to be addressed?
Like a good salesperson, good sales managers know they should be asking questions, not giving immediate answers.
So, what are the root causes for this product dumping, coaching behavior?
The reasons are similar to why a salesperson engages in product-dumping behaviors during a sales call—even when he knows better.
#1: Lack of self-awareness. How many sales managers take time to debrief their coaching calls, just like they used to when they were a seller debriefing their sales calls?
Effective sales managers debrief their coaching calls. What questions did you ask the salesperson? Did you ask the right follow-up questions? What didn’t you ask? What was the reason for missed coaching questions?
That which you are not aware of, you are bound to repeat.
The effective sales manager is self-aware and recognizes that the same practices that made him a top sales producer need to transfer to his role as a sales leader.
#2: Practice. Sales managers are promoted for a variety of reasons. One is their ability to sell and consistently achieve goal. They put in hours of practice to master the sales process and selling skills.
But how many sales managers have put in the same number of hours to conduct effective coaching conversations?
How many sales managers role play coaching conversations with other sales managers to avoid ‘wing-it’ coaching sessions?
Without practice, sales managers default to telling salespeople what to do rather than asking the great coaching questions that help salespeople discover what to do.
Sales managers, carve out quiet time to debrief coaching calls. Carve out more time to practice effective coaching questions. Call a colleague and role play an upcoming coaching session.
Practice the same skills that made you a top seller.