Kevin F. Davis, president of TopLine Leadership and author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness, recently evaluated a Fortune 500 company’s sales manager job descriptions and found that 85% of the responsibilities were related to sales coaching. But, when he spoke with the sales managers themselves, he found out that less than 10% of their time was spent coaching sales reps.
Judging from the job descriptions, it’s clear that sales coaching is a priority for the company – and it should be. But the reality is that even organizations that value coaching still struggle to make it happen. One of the biggest reasons managers fail to consistently coach their teams? Time.
So how can sales managers carve out more time to coach their sales reps? Here are 3 tips from The Sales Manager's Guide to Greatness:
#1. Stop being a hero and putting out every "fire"
Sales managers receive emails chock full of problems, questions and of course, red-hot fires. It might seem like the manager needs to extinguish all those fires, but in many instances reps can extinguish them on their own.
Managers can avoid taking on every rep’s problems by asking them two questions:
- What have you done about it so far?
- What do you think ought to be done?
As Kevin explains, if sales managers empower reps to solve their own problems, they’ll not only prevent future issues from escalating, but also free up time for more important things – like sales coaching.
"You cannot achieve your full potential as a sales leader if you spend the bulk of your time in reactive mode – solving everyone else's problems, holding ineffective meetings or dealing with timewasters. You need to make sure you have plenty of time to plan, coach, measure and manage. These are the priorities for sales management leadership." – Kevin F. Davis
#2. Regain control of your calendar
A sales manager's most important responsibility is developing their salespeople, but often times their calendars don’t allow for that. Take control of your calendar by being more selective about the meetings you attend. Determine if the meeting is something that will contribute to overall sales goals or see if the issue can be better resolved via email or a brief conversation. If you’re not using your time wisely to develop your reps, you could lose revenue.
Coaching reps should be a mission-critical task. Kevin says, think of coaching the same way you’d think about a flight; you wouldn’t miss your flight, so don’t miss sales coaching time with reps. According to Forbes Insights, 74% of sales managers say coaching is a sales manager’s most important role, so your schedule should reflect that.
Ask the following questions to avoid time-wasting meetings:
- Is there an advantage to having the attendees together at once?
- Is there an agenda?
- Are there objectives and action items?
If the answers to these questions are fuzzy, there may be a better alternative to the meeting.
#3. Failing to manage yourself
To effectively manage others, you must first manage yourself. Kevin says sales managers should compare it to flight attendants’ safety announcements: "In case we lose air pressure, masks will drop down from their ceiling. Put your mask on before helping others." You can't help sales reps if you can't help yourself.
He suggests using the following steps to manage yourself better and free up time for sales coaching:
- Stop emailing first thing in the morning: This the most productive time of the day - use it to do the most important tasks. It also changes your to-do list, because a fire is inevitably waiting in your email. Don't let this sidetrack you; focus on what is important. Kevin discovered one sales manager that found that a 33% reduction in time spent on email provided another 20 days per year to focus on coaching.
- Prioritize to-do and to-don't lists: Ask: “What is most important? What can be postponed? Can this task be delegated?” Create a to-don't list to make sure you stop doing things that don't contribute to your goals. If it's a certified time-waster, add it to your to-don't list and identify these activities before they steal time better spent on sales coaching and rep development.
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