How to Overcome 3 Common Barriers to Sales Coaching

Effective sales coaching is a key activity that enables organizations to achieve outstanding growth.

In our latest research report, we discovered that the top sales organizations in North America view their sales managers as sales culture leaders. Managers are enabling their sales teams to perform at a higher level by focusing on the right activities that support their growth. This is the factor setting the best organizations apart from the average.

Read more: 7 Sales Culture Best Practices that Lead to High Performance

And yet, only 21% of employees “strongly agree” that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do excellent work, according to recent Gallup Research. We also know that the primary reason people leave organizations is because of their relationship with their manager.

In order to achieve success, sales professionals must be very motivated - and their managers have a crucial supporting role. What is getting in the way of sales managers coaching well and consistently? Let’s look at three main obstacles to sales coaching.

3 Common Obstacles to Coaching Sales Teams

Obstacle #1: Struggling to Manage Priorities

Sales managers must balance being a leader, a manager and a coach. We often hear that they don't have enough time to coach each team member. If sales managers don’t spend enough time on each priority, however, they won't be able to drive results.

Sales coaching is arguably the most important sales management activity. Without coaching, you risk losing your high performers, compromise helping your mid- and low-performers improve and, subsequently, risk missing your goals and targets. It’s that critical. Coaching team members effectively through regular touch points and one-on-one meetings must be a high priority.

Obstacle #2: Being a Player Instead of Being a Coach

Often, sales managers are promoted after years of being a high performing salesperson. Despite the promotion to managing people, they still love the thrill of chasing deals. Many choose to get involved in deals because they are skilled at being a player. It’s a familiar territory within their comfort zone.

The perceived “backseat” role of sales coaching is therefore outside of the comfort zone of most sales leaders. Rather than coaching team members on how to sell, they would rather do it themselves.Others are simply ill-equipped on how to coach so they revert to what they know best: selling. This desire to remain a player can hinder their performance as a coach and as a result, the performance of their team. This brings us to our last obstacle.

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Obstacle #3: Lacking Sales Coaching Skills 

Even if a sales manager has clarity on their role as a coach, oftentimes they have never been taught how to coach. They lack the formal training on how to coach effectively.

It's critical to enable your sales managers with the tools, skills and processes of coaching. 

Without a manual or guidance on how to be a sales coach, they must figure it out for themselves. Many model the behaviors of sales leaders they have worked with in the past. Each sales manager then hones their own “version” of sales coaching and learns through experience, whether it works or not.

In our work with sales leaders, we see evidence of these 3 obstacles across a multitude of industries. Imagine the business impact if each salesperson on your team is coached to perform at their best and is motivated to do so. In order to drive results, sales managers must be equipped the confidence and competence to become great coaches.


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