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It doesn’t take a sports fanatic to know that a good coach is an invaluable asset.

Just look at the NFL, America’s most popular professional sports league, where the average NFL coach makes $3.25 million a year with two coaches topping the list at $8 million a year.

The same goes for college athletics where 71 of the 128 Division I football coaches (55 percent) make north of seven figures a season. 

So it shouldn’t be surprising that a winning sales team needs a knowledgeable and talented sales coach. That’s because, sales coaching isn’t as easy as one might think. Most sales managers were promoted because they consistently met sales goals and contributed to serious revenue growth as a sales rep. But sales success doesn’t always translate to coaching success. 

Here are five common sales coaching mistakes you might be making.

Treating sales coaching as a low priority

This may seem trivial, but it’s a fundamental truth. You can’t be a successful sales coach if you don’t make it a priority and dedicate time each day to coaching.

Statistics say that 73 percent of sales managers spend less than five percent of their time coaching. Five percent. That comes out to less than half an hour every workday. You have to prioritize sales coaching if you want to see real results from your team members.

Yes, sales managers have a lot of responsibilities and pressures from top management to focus solely on numbers, but that doesn’t mean sales coaching gets pushed aside. When you make coaching a priority it will translate to higher numbers.

Answering every question

As a sales manager it can be easy to slip into, what sales Peri Shawn calls, the OSF (Oh So Familiar) Cycle. This cycle is:

  • A problem occurs

  • A team member comes to you for the answer

  • You provide them with the answer.

That’s because sales coaching is hard. Providing answers is easy. Does this cycle solve problems in the short term? Yes, but what happens when the problem arises again? You keep answering the same questions and your team doesn’t grow. By not answering every question, your force your team to become self-reliant; producing better numbers in the long run.

Confusing coaching for micromanaging or evaluations

Sales coaching is not micromanaging. And it’s definitely not a once-a-year-30-minute-session during an evaluation.

Think about any sport. What if a coach quietly sat by during practice and waited until after a loss to finally coach? He or she won’t be coaching very long. Sales coaching is a continuum. A daily process that focuses on your team’s future.

Non one likes to be micromanaged. But sales coaching shouldn’t come off that way—when done effectively. That’s because true sales coaching paves the way for your team to come up with their own answers. You do this through showing real interest in your team’s progress, listening to their problems, and asking the right questions that will guide your team to the answers.

Don’t coach theoretical, coach reality

What do I mean by this? Most of us know how we SHOULD behave before any situation. We should choose a healthy option for lunch or we should be more patient with people. But when we’re presented with real-life situations, we often make the wrong choice.

Coaching your sales team in what should happen on the phone before calling a lead is a lot like this. You have to move your coaching sessions past the theoretical and dig deep into the specifics of what actually happened. After a phone call, ask where they think they went wrong. That way, the coaching session can be applied in the future because it’s based on real-life events. 

Treating every team member alike

The interesting thing about championship-caliber teams is they consist of completely different people with completely different styles of playing. A good coach knows this and embraces the diversity as an asset. A good coach also knows there’s no universal style of coaching. You have to KNOW your players.

This may sound like an exercise in social psychology, but knowing your team members before providing a minute of coaching can make the difference. Some people respond better to competition than others. Some may like being more social at the office, while others may want to be left alone.

It’s your job as a sales manager to spend time with your team to understand their needs, wants, and struggles. Ask questions and observe them to get a grasp on their strengths and weaknesses so you can target specific areas for improvement. By investing time and energy in knowing your team, the benefits will begin compounding in the coming months and years.

Like success in sales, success in sales coaching takes work. It won’t happen overnight. But when you take the first step and make coaching a priority, you’ll begin to see real change and growth in not only your team members, but also your numbers.

Kayla. (2016). MAKE SURE TO AVOID THESE 5 COMMON SALES COACHING MISTAKES. Available: https://painpointpitch.com/2016/10/19/make-sure-to-avoid-these-5-common-sales-coaching-mistakes/. Last accessed 13/04/2017.


5 Common Sales Coaching Mistakes You Should Avoid

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