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    The Biggest Lever in Sales: Your Sales Managers

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    What is the biggest lever in sales? The one thing you can upgrade to have the greatest impact on your win rates, deal size, sales cycles, and overall performance?

    It’s not more efficient prospecting. It’s not more pipeline activity. It’s not stronger sales process, more effective strategy, or even a better CRM. And if you think I’m going to say “coaching your salespeople,” you’re wrong.

    All of those can help. All of them are critically important to effective sales. But they’re not the largest critical multiplier. No, not even sales coaching.

    There’s another lever that’s even more critical. It requires you to take a step back to see one level higher than coaching your salespeople.

    We all know that coaching is a great sales multiplier. But how do you get great coaching? By coaching your coaches.

    That’s the biggest lever.

    Modern Sales Management is a Mess

    Most sales organizations make a lot of mistakes in how they manage sales management.

    • They promote their best salespeople into managers
    • They fail to vet prospective managers for correct mindset
    • They don’t invest in providing training and resources to help new managers succeed
    • They invest in salesperson training, without engaging the sales managers to ensure that they can coach the new skills and behaviors
    • They force managers to “manage by lagging indicators
    • They don’t provide enough time, space, analytics, or training for managers to coach each individual salesperson to achieve their best performance

    The result is a snarl of ineffective sales management that leaves salespeople largely on their own to sink or swim, and fails to provide the effectiveness boost that truly excellent sales management is capable of.

    • Organizations can do better at sales management by
    • Improving the way they promote sales managers
    • Improving the way they onboard sales managers
    • Putting an effective coaching framework into place
    • Making sure coaches have TIME to spend with salespeople
    • Instituting effective cadences
    • Equipping coaches with analytics that help them see where coaching is needed
    • Embed training and enablement so salespeople can self-serve the basics and access coaching when they really need it

    But none of this is going to matter if your sales managers aren’t all that great at coaching. 

    How to Coach the Coach

    Just as salespeople aren’t born knowing how to sell, sales coaches aren’t born knowing how to coach. Often, the wrong people are promoted to the job, but even when it’s the right person, they still don’t always have the skills. The right person may:

    • Have a collaboration mindset
    • Care more about the team than their own individual performance
    • Care about their team’s personal and professional growth and success
    • Have excellent sales skills in their own right
    • Understand your way of selling

    But knowing how to do it is not the same as knowing how to coach it. That’s why the highest performing athletes don’t always make the highest performing coaches.

    Just as salespeople aren’t born knowing how to sell, sales coaches aren’t born knowing how to coach.

    To coach the coach, you need to invest in professional training, enablement, and external coaching to ensure your coaches are continually improving their coaching game. They need to know how to:

    • execute your WAY of selling, including your strategy, process, methodology, playbooks, and conversational skills
    • coach others in your way of selling
    • coach people to personal growth and success
    • ask great coaching questions
    • know when someone needs more help
    • prioritize their attention to leverage their coaching most effectively
    • build cadences that work for the people on their team
    • have difficult conversations
    • motivate and inspire rather than just manage
    • access additional resources when they need them to support their work and their team

    By pumping up your management team’s coaching skills, you multiply their multiplier. One way to do this is to hire a professional sales consultant, such as one of Membrain’s partners, to help you build an effective coaching system and then coach your coaches to their highest potential. We would love to help you connect with the experts who can bring your team to its next level.

    George Brontén
    Published May 24, 2023
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn