The Active Coach
Last week in our monthly newsletter, we published a piece on activity that featured a discussion on the need to plan and understand the level of activity needed to deliver against goal. We even included a link to a calculator to help readers figure out the exact levels of specific activities.
In that article the focus was on the front line rep, but as we all know, the front line rep is not in this alone, or at least should not be in it alone. If the rep is to fully succeed the other relevant participant needs to be the front line sales manager. The daily coach who can help his/her reps adopt and extend the processes and habits needed to succeed in their daily battle. Unfortunately, many managers fail to deliver full value as a coach their teams when it comes to prospecting. We’ve discussed in the past, there is a difference between sales management and sales coaching. This is especially true when it comes to the fundamental skill in engaging with new prospects.
There are a number of contributing factors to this shortcoming by some (many) managers. One reality is that many were ‘so so’ prospectors when it came to their own career. Hunters are a much rarer breed in sales than “farmers” are. Even where they exist, they often don’t aspire to be managers, seeing it as something that is less rewarding financially and otherwise, different than their “farmer” counterparts. When you step back and think about it, it makes sense. Those we label “farmers” is sales, tend to be better at nurturing accounts, managing them day to day and tending to their needs. They are better at managing relationships than changing the status quo. The growth that occurs from their activities is usually steady, not dramatic; they are more likely to “tend” to things than change things, hence the expression “organic growth”.
So it is not surprising that when they become managers they are much better at helping their teams and individual members do what they did best when they were successful in their sales careers. Don’t get me wrong they know what to say, and often use the right words at the right time. They can tell their reps to go out and get new accounts or get new streams of revenue from existing accounts, but saying it and coaching it are two different things. Just as customers can differentiate between talk and substance, front line reps can too. As a coach you should be able to more than just talk to things at an abstract level, you should be able to demonstrate the right process for success. This is different than demonstrating how to prospect by just getting on the phone and making a couple of calls, or firing off a few e-mails.
This difference is key for two reasons. First just getting on the phone and banging out a couple calls is not demonstrating best practices needed for consistent success. Second, and I think more important, is the fact that it is a coaching skill that can be learned, and with that, there is the promise and hope that even if one was a “farmer” as a rep, you can still effectively coach prospecting when you become a manager. As with many things it is a question for learning and putting into practice; not that different than what you are looking for your reps to do with prospecting.
So if you are a good manager who was a great farmer, but preferred not to hunt, it would be a good thing to go out and seek some coaching on how to coach the hunting skill, especially if your success rests on the ability of your team to consistently and successfully source new revenue beyond their base.
What’s in Your Pipeline?
The EDGE Framework for Sales Coaching Success