coaching seminar classroom

The Evolution of Coaching

In her book Becoming a Manager, author and Harvard Business professor Linda A. Hill describes how managers are the “cornerstone to sustaining quality, service, innovation and financial performance.” Yet, according to Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey of 610 respondents, only 12% said their organization currently invests sufficiently in the development of frontline managers (FLMs).

If you are part of the vast majority, you haven’t been given all the tools, training, techniques etc. to become a great manager. You’ve had to develop as best you can on your own. However, are you where you want to be? Do you see yourself playing one of the following types of managers? Be honest in your self-assessment!

  1. The Fear Manager – Totally focused on the numbers. If reps don’t make a certain number of calls and get results, they’ll be fired. Treats reps like children.
  2. The Deal Manager – Just want to talk about deals and give advice on how to close. It is all about pulling information out of the sales rep to help them better forecast where deals are to their senior management.
  3. The Motivational Manager – Want to meet with reps to pump them up so they make more calls and push prospects harder to close the business.
  4. The “Do it like me” Manager – Help reps by telling them to do things based on your own experience as a rep, which may differ from the rep’s style and personality.
  5. The Super Closer Manager – Want to be brought in at the end of the deal to help the rep close it.
  6. The Manager as Coach – Want to develop reps’ overall skills and leverage their years of experience. May access the tech stack to get information, but rely a lot on gut and experience when coaching.

Elevating your coaching game
Anyone can say, “I don’t want to be one of those cheesy-type managers, I want to be a great coach.” But like anything else, it starts with putting behaviors in place that start to change the outcomes. Anyone can make up their mind to get in shape, but it’s scheduling the time at the gym or for a run and then actually doing it that begins the evolution.

The best FLMs focus on improving their own coaching behaviors and skills to be effective for their people. There are effective behaviors that can be found in each of the mentioned manager styles, but in our management team’s decades of experience, those aren’t the key indicators of success. What’s is the secret? Here’s our playbook from the best managers in the business:

  • Separate Deal Coaching from Rep Development – don’t make your 1:1s about deals. Use the time to develop your reps and build their skills. What overall skills – prospecting, qualifying, etc., do they need to develop that will help them for all their deals.
  • Leverage other members on the team. Connect reps with each other if one rep is struggling in an area another is strong in. If one of your reps is strong in getting to the decision-makers, have others learn best practices from them.
  • In your coaching sessions, focus on underlying causes, not symptoms. For example, if a rep is struggling with qualifying deals, try to figure out what specific area they are struggling. Is it finding a compelling reason to buy, discussing money or getting to the ultimate decision-maker? Focus and work on the right end of the problem.
  • Tie coaching to reps’ individual plan and goals. Find out where they want to take their career and help them develop the skills they need accordingly. Understanding a rep’s underlying motivation is a key to help them change and grow in their role.
  • Find time to work on your own skills. For example: set up role-play with colleagues to simulate having a tough conversation with a rep.
  • Be reliable. Prioritize 1:1s. Prepare for your reps individually and in team meetings. Consistent 1:1’s will lead to success for both you and your team.

Take a moment to visualize your future as a coach. How will you get better? How will you help your team get better? Own it, practice it, and evolve into the manager and coach you want to be. Start right now.