If there’s one thing every single one of us—managers, sellers, corporate, and those of us who serve you—will be judged on in the next few years, it will be how effective we are at new business. As our transactional business continues to be challenged, this is one of the things we can control.
I also think we would all agree that we need our people to be way more effective at selling than they have ever been before.
But, here’s the problem. Most sales managers don’t really know the areas where an AE needs to get better because the managers aren’t out enough with their people in an observation/coaching role. A friend of mine ran a national sales organization. His regional managers spent 4 days each week observing and coaching their talent… not selling for them, but watching them to see what they needed to improve.
We believe that sales managers need to be out in the field coaching their AE’s a minimum of 1-2 days per week. At our Sales Manager’s Boot Camp, we teach a way to do this that will help a sales manager really see what their AE’s need to work on. That session takes an hour at Boot Camp, but here are some of the highlights:
- Set a coaching morning with your AE’s 1-2 weeks in advance. These days need to be set in stone. If you start cancelling them the morning of, you’ll lose credibility with your team.
- Set very specific expectations for what you want to see that day:
- You want to observe two needs-analysis, first-meeting calls.
- You want to have one appointment that asks for $. I suggest rotating those meetings between new business and existing clients.
- You want the AE to set up a lunch with the REAL decision maker for one of their KEY accounts. (An account that spends in the top 25% of your local accounts.)
- Don’t make any suggestions or do any critiquing until AFTER all the meetings have occurred. I play golf, and when someone tries to help me mid-round, it always makes it worse. Plus, when you wait until the end, you can also focus on the good things you saw.
- After lunch and your critique, you can head back to the office insanity.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Make sure every AE has their turn and that you’re consistently doing this. You’ll immediately get a clear handle as to the specific issues your AE might need to work on to improve their productivity. And, you’ll see things the entire team might work on. These things become the basis for your training program.
Also, keep notes so you can watch the next time and see if they’ve improved. If they have, be positive about that and make sure your AE knows you noticed.
Two issues on which to reflect before you start this effort:
- How good are your sales manager’s personal selling skills? After all, you can’t teach what you don’t know.
- All of us have to be coached and reminded to not make the biggest mistake sales managers make on calls with AE’s—taking over the call. (On social media, I’m told you can find pictures of me in my Superman shirt at Boot Camp. I peel off my suit to show this shirt when I discuss my biggest mistake, “Here I am to save the day.”) Most managers can’t stand to see an AE blow it, so they take over the call to save a deal, forgetting that 335 days a year that AE is on their own. You have to see their weaknesses to help them fix them.
I confess I was horrible at #2. Truth be told, I actually wanted them to falter. That way, I could take over the call. My approach to training in those days? “Watch me, kid, I’m good.” What a huge miss!! And unacceptable behavior today.
I want all levels of management out with customers more. GM’s talking to top client leadership is mandatory today, and sales managers need to be doing that as well. But we really need sales managers doing more consistent and effective coaching, so they can truly lead their teams to higher sales effectiveness.
Can your AE’s sell? You don’t have any idea until you spend more time observing them.
Have a GSM or GM meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle or John Hannon speak to your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a Sales FORCE? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-926-SELL.