How Much Time Should Sales Managers Spend With Their Reps?

By Jeff Beals

In any given year, half of all sales reps fail to make their quotas.  That’s a macro statistic, not necessarily applicable to every industry.  Some companies might be better; others are worse.  So it would make sense that sales leaders do everything they possibly can to help sales reps improve their performance.

I believe that, above all else, the best thing a sales manager can do for his or her reps is to personally coach them.  That means managers observe what reps do, give immediate feedback and talk openly about how the rep will grow and develop.  Unfortunately, too many sales managers either can’t or won’t engage in one-on-one coaching with their reps.  Some managers try but just aren’t very good at it.

Anecdotally, I have long known about the power of one-on-one coaching, but now we have some evidence.  My friend, Jim Keenan, CEO of A Sales Guy, Inc., released a new study: “Sales Coaching and Quota Attainment Survey: Does Sales Coaching Work?”

Keenan’s team interviewed 1,010 sales professionals, both managers and reps, about their experiences and opinions.

For purposes of the study, “sales coaching” was defined as “the deliberate, one-on-one engagement with salespeople by their supervisors to provide feedback with the intention of improving a sales rep’s ability to achieve quota and expand their selling skills in order to excel on the job.”

The study discovered that salespeople who exceed their quotas are more than 30 percent more likely to be coached than those who do not.

Additionally, sales reps want to be coached.  Among reps who are not coached, 66.1 percent said they would like to be coached.  Among reps who are coached, almost 70 percent of them said it was “good” or “awesome.”

The study showed that one coaching tactic was particularly powerful. Those companies that recorded actual sales calls and then used those recordings for coaching purposes, had reps who were 30.2 percent more likely to exceed quotas.

But here is the most shocking statistic that came out of Keenan’s study: More than 48 percent of sales reps say they are coached, yet 82.1 percent of sales leaders claim to coach their sales teams.  Either someone is lying, or someone has no idea what coaching really is!

Why the difference?  There could be a number of reasons.  Some sales managers might think they are coaching when in reality they are having only superficial conversations with their reps.  Stopping by a rep’s desk and asking about a personal life event or progress on an account does not qualify as “sales coaching.”  Some managers might think it does.

What’s the biggest excuse sales managers give for not doing one-on-one coaching with their reps?  That’s easy: time.  Sales managers are always short on time, so the excuse has some merit.  Nevertheless, the biggest deficits in sales departments are training, coaching and mentorship. Sales managers must provide resources and teach reps how to succeed.  Managers must be organized and do a good job of prioritizing rep development in their weekly schedules.

That also means taking the coaching role seriously.  Even among sales managers who actually schedule private coaching sessions with employees, a large number of them regularly cancel, attempt to reschedule or show up late for the meetings.  In order for coaching to be an effective tool, the manager has to take it even more seriously than the reps. The manager has to be completely committed to coaching or it just won’t happen.

I’d like to add one caveat.  The difference of opinion between reps and managers as to whether coaching takes place in their companies could be attributed to excuse-making on the part of sales reps.  An underperforming or undermotivated sales rep could claim a lack of coaching as justification for his or her lackluster results.

That said, Keenan’s study is crystal clear: sales coaching works.  If you lead a sales team, it would be wise for you to establish a coaching-and-mentoring culture in your department.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

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Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

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