As experience demonstrates, the best players are not always the best coaches. Many star performers are just not able to transfer their skills and knowledge to others.
The same idea applies to sales. Someone who is the Michael Jordan of salespeople may not be the Phil Jackson of Sales Managers.
Many sales managers gain promotions to that position based on their sales performance, and never go through any formal leadership training. They not only have to learn new management responsibilities – they may also still have to meet their own sales quota. Usually, both sales and management suffer due to a lack of focus.
Sales managers are in a highly visible role in the organization and are under constant pressure to make their numbers. How they handle this pressure has a significant impact on their ability to lead.
A manager who simply barks out orders to get things done might actually get short-term results. Over time, however, their style tends to lower morale. They may not ever realize that they are the cause of the problem.
By contrast, top sales managers push themselves outside of their comfort zones. They continually develop new skills to help them lead their teams more effectively. The best leaders gain a clear understanding of challenges and opportunities by asking good questions. In this way, they can raise performance and increase focus on achieving shared goals.
A Culture of Coaching
The character of the manager shapes the culture of their team. A leader who is an effective coach can act as an agent of change for the entire organization.
A culture of coaching can transform a counter-productive toxic culture. Sales meetings do not need to be stress-filled shouting matches. They can be a forum for leveraging the experience and expertise of everyone on the team.
Rather than telling people what to do, a manager can adopt a coaching mindset to lead their team. This mindset will help them in many ways, particularly in how they run sales meetings. They can create a safe environment where everyone’s voice is heard. A leader can apply coaching skills to maximize the creative energy of the team to find solutions.
For example, when a sales manager talks to a salesperson about a customer meeting, they may start out by pointing out something did not go so well. The salesperson may also be quick to blame themselves. There seems to be a tendency for people to dwell on what went wrong, rather than identifying what went right and how to build on success.
Negativity can make focused concentration difficult, if not impossible. Rather than creating a cutthroat competition, fostering a spirit of cooperation around shared goals has proven to get better results.
Starting on a positive note can help to set a tone conducive to the sharing meaningful information. Once they feel safe, people are more likely to have an honest and thoughtful examination of where progress needs to be made.
A Culture of Success
Coaching can help sales teams leverage best practices to advance key opportunities. A coach who knows how to adjust their communication style can help each team member explore different options. By the end of a meeting, each salesperson can identify an actionable way forward.
Sales managers who capture and communicate success stories create a culture of success. Sharing wins with a larger audience helps to reward those who deserve to be recognized. This process can inspire others to follow suit and help to install a repeatable model of success.
By focusing on the success of the team, leaders can follow a repeatable process to create and sustain high level of performance. They are also much more likely to develop the leadership talent to lead their company in the future.
-Written By Bill Rust, Baker Communications: http://bakercommunications.com/blog/coaching-for-success/