No Skill or No Will: Why Sales Managers Don’t Coach
The following is an excerpt from Sales Coaching, Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach by Linda Richardson Sales Performance
When sales managers are asked why they don’t coach, they usually say it is because they don’t have the time. Looking at the workload of today’s managers, the “no time” obstacle rings true. Coaching does take time, especially for the player/coach, who must focus on his or her own business as well as coach. In the short run, coaching takes more time than not coaching. And “real coaching” — what we refer to as development coaching — can take more time than “one minute” coaching (saying, “Good catch, but here’s what’s wrong and here’s what to do”). Such “triage” coaching does make sense in emergencies — but not as a way of life. But despite the time pressures, our experience with thousands of managers shows that time is not the primary reason they don’t coach.
In our work with clients, we frequently ask sales managers to think about a salesperson on their team who is overdue for feedback for a sales problem. Immediately, each sales manager can identify someone. We then ask how long the problem has been going on. Participants grin and squirm. Why? Often, the problem has been going on for weeks or months. As we discuss this, many of the would-be coaches acknowledge they are avoiding the problem for reasons they can all articulate — they don’t feel comfortable, they are really not expected to coach, they want to avoid confrontation, they don’t want to damage the relationship, and they don’t know what to do.
Ultimately, there are three overriding reasons why most managers don’t coach:
- They themselves are not coached (no role models). The culture does not support coaching
- They don’t know how to coach (no skill)
- They have little or no incentive or accountability to coach — no inspiration or motivation (no will)
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