3 Tips for Sales Managers Who Have Never Been Coached

You want to be a great sales coach to your team—but what if you’ve never had a role model? Here are three great tips to get you started.

One of the most common complaints from salespeople is lack of attention from their sales manager. Often, this derives from the fact that sales managers, who are expected to coach, have never been properly coached themselves.

Most people learn tasks best by watching someone perform the task successfully and then attempting it under observation by someone who can help identify and address gaps. How, then, can you learn to coach your reps successfully if you never had such a role model to follow?

To those who have never done it, coaching may seem dauntingly complex. You can simplify it by remembering three simple guidelines.

1. Be consistent and patient when coaching your sales reps.
Schedule time on your calendar to coach your sales reps every week. People develop skills incrementally – consistent effort over time. Don’t allow any roadblocks to prevent you from coaching.

Identify one skill needing development for each sales rep. Then focus on that one skill until they demonstrate competency when selling. This may take weeks or months, but it’s worth it. Be patient.

2. Learn to say “No” to your sales reps.
Coaching means helping your sales reps help themselves. Don’t do everything for them. If they want you to join them on every sales call to help them close the deal, say “no”. Your job is to help them close sales on their own. Of course you will help on difficult or complex sales. However, the day-to-day sales should be handled by your reps… without your involvement.

Focus on helping them develop their skills within every step of the sales process. This also includes the personal skills required for success. Create conditions for them to figure it out by thinking through the problem. By asking them pointed questions, you can help them develop a solution on their own. Redirect your sales reps to do the work and learn from their experiences. Remember, you can always jump in and help when they are really lost.

3. Understand your sales reps’ personal motivation.
Have you asked your sales reps what they really want? What motivates them? What are their aspirations? What do they think they need to do to attain them? People do what they want to do – not need to do. Needs get fulfilled if their “wants” drive them.

If a sales rep wants to buy a new home, help them calculate the sales required to make the down payment. If they want to pay for their kids college, partner with them to set that goal. Make it a part of your regular coaching to help them earn enough for their college savings plan.

Like many activities, sales coaching is both an art and a science. You can learn the basics easily enough, but you’ll only get better by doing it, evaluating the results, tweaking your process, and then doing it some more.

If you’ve never been coached, mastering the fundamentals may require a little more time, but there’s no reason why, if you follow these three tips, you cannot become a better coach than you—or your team—ever thought possible.