Posted by Dave Kurlan
In my last article I shared the top 8 requirements for becoming a great salesperson. Wow, did that resonate with people and there was a great discussion about it on LinkedIn. In addition to that, I received a number of emails asking, what are the requirements for becoming a great sales manager?
I'll share those in a moment but first, since they were so popular, a few more "do you remember the first time" questions:
Do you remember your first cell phone that didn't need to be plugged into a roof-mounted antenna or, a little later, the first cordless phones for your home? Do you remember the first car that allowed you to use Bluetooth instead of holding the handset?
Do you remember your first "portable" computer? For most people it was a laptop but mine was a Kaypro CP/M based transportable computer that weighed about 15 pounds circa 1984 which I replaced with a Panasonic laptop, with 20 MB of storage circa 1987.
Now for sales management. Do you remember the first time you coached a salesperson and they told you how helpful your coaching was? Do you remember the first time they asked how soon they could come back for more coaching? Do you remember when all of your salespeople felt the same way about your coaching? Do you remember the first time you coached a salesperson on an opportunity they were unlikely to win and they won it because of your coaching? Do you remember how the rush from coaching a salesperson to a win was greater than the rush you used to get from your own wins?
Of course you don't. 92% of sales managers simply aren't that far along yet. After all, it's been less than a decade since it became fashionable for sales managers to spend at least 50% of their time on coaching. For comparison, consultative selling was introduced in the 1960's, was mainstreamed in the 1980's, and is the foundation of most sales training being delivered today. Despite that, only 17% of all salespeople have the consultative selling competency as a strength. See OMG's statistics for all 21 Sales Core Competencies.
What are the 8 most important requirements for being a great sales manager?
You might be surprised but they are the exact same 8 that I shared for salespeople because you can't become a great coach of salespeople without those 8. Sure, coaching requires some additional skills but if you can execute on the 8 already listed, you can learn to become a great sales coach.
What else do you need? Here is my bonus list of 5 additional requirements to become great at coaching salespeople:
Post-Call Debrief - this is a structured debriefing of a call or meeting that has already taken place with the goal of determining why it ended the way it did, which skill gap was was involved, and what in the salesperson's Sales DNA might have caused the skill gap. This is followed by lessons learned and an action plan
Pre-Call Strategy - this is a structured discussion of an upcoming call or meeting where the salesperson must identify goals for the call, desired outcomes, potential challenges, how those challenges will be addressed, and share how that conversation will sound.
Joint Sales Calls - where the sales manager observes the salesperson and provides real-time feedback.
Role-play - this is the scariest and most difficult part of coaching and without a willingness to jump and and play any scenario in any stage of the pipeline with any level of decision maker against any competition with any objections is key. Read more about my thoughts on role-playing.
Patience - Development occurs one day at a time. You can't and won't coach your salespeople up overnight. But you should be able to make them incrementally better each and every time you coach them.