teamwork-383939_640You’ll never have time to coach your team if you’re doing their jobs for them.

Coach your salespeople. Are you tired of hearing that message over and over again? Maybe you don’t have coaching skills. Maybe you figure you hired top reps, so they should be able to succeed on their own. Or maybe you don’t have time to coach your team because you’re too busy solving all their problems.

Well, it’s a new year—with new sales goals and quotas to meet. So why not try a new approach? Teach your sales team to put out their own fires so you can do what you were hired to do: coach and lead.

Get Proactive

Sales leadership expert Kevin Davis puts this issue into perspective in his blog post, “5 Things Proactive Sales Managers Do Differently.” He shares the story of a Fortune 500 company that hired him to evaluate their sales management practices. When he reviewed the company’s job description for sales managers, he noted that about 85 percent of their responsibilities included coaching. But during interviews with several people who were already in that position, he learned they only spent about 5 percent of their time coaching.

Why aren’t these leaders doing what they were hired to do? Davis explains:

There are two types of sales managers: proactive and reactive. A sales manager who is reactive is one who is constantly fighting fires. And these “fires” are likely the same problems they were struggling with last month, too. The core problem that many sales managers have is the flawed mindset that, “I am 100% responsible for solving all team problems.”

So, salespeople hand-off their problems to their manager. Problems in customer service, order entry, you name it. They all get dumped in the sales manager’s lap. In extreme cases, a sales manager can take on the role of an administrative assistant to the team. I ask sales managers: “Do you ever wonder what your salespeople are doing after they give you their problems?” Here’s a hint: they’re likely not making more sales calls! (Read the rest of this article.)

Teach a Man to Fish

So how do you step out of reactive mode and become a proactive sales manager? By giving your team all the information and resources they need to solve most of their day-to-day challenges without you. Then you’ll have the time and energy to help them learn new skills, grow professionally, and think “big picture” about increasing sales pipelines.

Davis’s fantastic article offers five actionable tips to help you make the shift:

  1. Process educated foresight
  2. Be well organized
  3. Create an actionable plan
  4. Document wins and losses
  5. Clearly communicate team vision

(Read the rest of Davis’s article for specifics.)

Remember, if you give a man a deal, you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to sell, you fill his pipeline for a lifetime.

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