There are five major team sports including my favorite, baseball, as well as football, soccer, hockey, and basketball. Whether led by a head coach or manager, there are coaching consistencies across all five sports.
Coaches observe and coach players on areas of improvement during every practice, before and after practice, and during games. This coaching is key to understanding how teams and individual players improve their performance during the course of the regular season and in the playoffs. On each team, there is a culture of ongoing, never-ending, consistent, powerful, and expert coaching taking place.
Sales is more of an individual sport – like golf and tennis, than it is a team sport. Can you imagine what would happen if these coaching practices applied to sales? Many of us in the sales consulting space have been trying to get sales managers to spend 50% of their time coaching for at least the last 10 years. I wrote about that for the first time in 2007. Twelve years later, only 7% of all sales managers were both spending the time and were effective at coaching.
Can you imagine what would happen to salespeople, sales teams, company revenues and margins if sales managers coached as often and as effectively as sports coaches? That’s right. There would be an unprecedented level of improvement in effectiveness, revenue and profit.
And that leads us to the issue that is most difficult to understand.
Who would benefit the most from the results of more coaching and more effective coaching?
If profit is one of the benefits, then anyone with equity ownership, and anyone who is being measured on profit, like CEO’s, Presidents, CRO’s, CSO’s and owners would benefit.
Yet those are the very same people who are responsible for setting expectations and holding people accountable. Why aren’t they demanding that this frequency and level of coaching be part of the company’s culture?
And there’s more.
This isn’t just one group of executives at one company that are acting stupidly, this is close to 97% of executives at 97% of the companies around the world!
This isn’t some novel idea that I just floated because I think it makes sense. It has already been proven, that even consistent and mediocre coaching causes a 28% improvement in effectiveness and revenue.
Citing the table below in September of 2018, I wrote that “the first row reveals that sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching salespeople (last column on the right) have salespeople whose sales percentile score is 28% higher than those managers who devoted little to none of their time coaching.” How is that for science to back up somebody’s incredibly accurate wild-ass guess from many years ago?
There are five major reasons why sales managers aren’t coaching more frequently:
- Many still have a personal sales quota. Commissions from their personal sales would outweigh the commissions from an increase in sales from their salespeople.
- The abundance of new sales tools create a distraction – from getting people trained, to baby-sitting them when they fail to use the tools.
- Most sales managers don’t read books on sales management, nor do they read the latest posts on LinkedIn, Top Sales Magazine, Selling Power, or Blogs. As a result, they have no idea what is expected of sales managers in general.
- As we discussed earlier in the article, executives in the C Suite are not demanding more and better coaching
- Even if they agreed that more is better and better is great, they don’t know how.
So as we kick-off 2020, the major question is, how can we change this very changeable issue?