From Manager to Coach
One of the many things I love about the training and development world is being given the opportunity to contribute to another person’s development. Recently I was in a meeting with a client and she was explaining to me that they were having difficulty getting their account reps to embrace a new attitude towards selling.
This company historically had not expected their account representatives to do any sales activities, simply manage the accounts and provide great customer service. Several years ago that changed and president felt they were missing huge opportunities by not having the account reps letting their clients know of their many offerings and the other options available to them.
The client explained to me that when they decided to make this change they provided the account reps with a sales training program. This program was delivered by a gentleman who was very familiar in their industry and was able to customize a program that was most applicable (someone not in our alliance). She shared the information from the program and it was an excellent design. She said nothing had changed since the training and the senior folks were frustrated. She asked me if I had any suggestions.
The first I wanted to know was if the managers had attended the training with the reps. She said yes they had so they would be familiar with what was covered in the program. Then I asked her if the managers changed anything about the way they managed the account reps. She said not that she knew of.
I shared with her that I thought there is a big difference in managing a group of managers and managing a group of sales people. I suggested the managers needed to change how they interacted with their account reps and be clear on the new expectations. I suggested that they learn a sales coaching model that would help them interact differently, ask different questions and set the parameters around metrics and accountability. She thought it was a great idea.
We did a one day Manager as Sales Coach program to provide the managers with a general overview and some coaching tools. This session was followed up with six telephone training sessions to role play, conduct actual coaching sessions and to focus on specific areas needed to support them becoming powerful coaches (i.e. listening, asking questions). While most of the managers have embraced the coaching mindset, a few are still skeptical.
During the last call one manager shared that he had actively started to use some of the new tools and happily reported it was slowly making a difference. I debriefed the others and they too were experimenting with their new tools. We have three phone sessions left and I am confident the managers will transition into becoming effective sales managers. It is often slow to transition from old ways of doing things, the key is to stay committed to the results you want and take necessary actions required to get there.
By Cindy Stradling CPC, CSP