How To Coach A Coach
Updated: Feb 17
There are 5 key skills sales managers need to have to be great. One of them is coaching sales reps.
But, we cannot forget that sales managers need to be coached up themselves. Managers are people too, and they work inside complex, busy organizations with conflicting priorities just like reps.
Just like everyone else, sales managers are unlikely to change their own behaviors and become more effective without coaching support.
Therefore, it is equally important—if not more so—to develop purposeful plans for continuous learning, skills development, and helping your sales managers to become highly effective in coaching each salesperson up to the next level of sales performance.
In other words, you must learn to coach the coaches! Who’s doing that in your organization? Who’s coaching the coaches?
In most companies, either the sales VP or the president will coach the sales managers. Hopefully, that works. Often, it doesn’t. Those executives are typically incapable of coaching really well because they don’t have the time or they lack the skills. The latter is most often the case.
When clients come to us for coaching assistance, they’re often very confused about how to approach coaching sales managers.
Thankfully, it can be learned.
In general, coaching sessions for your sales manager should be conducted in the same way as coaching with your sales representatives, with:
a proven method: Select a coaching model that is proven to be effective. Look for one that is behavioral-based (for developmental coaching), with an approach to engage the reps in the analysis of their results, activities, and methods (behaviors), as well as the co-creation of the best solution and an action plan to implement it.
set clear expectations: Benchmark the skill set and performance of each representative at this point in time. Then set achievable goals for each representative in a 30 – 60 – 90-day time frame. Do the same for each of your sales managers. Help your sales managers understand their current skillset and, with their input, set short term team objectives.
someone to model: Study top-producing managers in order to help others replicate what they are doing differently to drive better results. Roleplay is key.
time (and lots of it): Coaching is a high-priority activity that gets results. Provide managers with time to review team and individual results to look for behavior patterns and performance gaps to effectively coach toward closing those gaps.
Above all, build the “coaching the coach” expectation into senior leadership roles so that you have top-down support in all of your coaching efforts.
This is critical as you develop measures and reports for your coaching efforts. In addition, whether coming from an internal or external resource, the coaching sessions must allow the managers to express themselves freely and with confidence in a safe coaching environment.
Note that the frequency of coaching sessions varies based on the sales manager’s needs. Ideally, they should occur weekly, but if you have a strong, competent sales manager, you might be able to space them farther out. Sales management evaluations are a great tool for coaches to use when they are coaching managers, as they provide a snapshot in time of the manager’s competency, DNA, and will to manage.
They make it possible to identify and work on individual strengths and weaknesses. You would be remiss not to use them, as their efficiency has been proven time and time again!
Remember, coaching your sales manager/s is as important for the success of your business as coaching your sales reps, and it’s a process, not an event.
For help getting started in your organization, please reach out.