Coach from the Field, Not the Locker Room
How you lead is based on the information you have—no matter the career you’re in. As a sales manager, having the right information and using it correctly are both pivotal to the success of you and your sales team, and this goes far beyond stats like the latest sales numbers.
When a sports coach leads their team in a game, they come in with a lot of information about their players, the opposing team, and all the trends that have shaped the season so far.
You need to do this too, which means finding a happy balance between letting your sales reps do what they do best and guiding them when they’re off track.
But first let’s focus on that information that you need to be bringing as the coach, which leads to a critical question…
Do you know where your players are?
It might sound like a silly question, but figuring out the answer (to this and a few other important questions) can help you see the bigger picture. When a sales rep’s performance starts flagging, or even when your entire team’s stats are down, make sure you’re asking yourself these questions:
- How often are they just dropping off business cards or leaving messages with receptionists?
- How many middle managers are they making sales calls to?
- Did they mention the latest promotion?
- If they did mention the latest promotion, did it make a sale?
- If they lost a deal, by how much, and to which competitor?
- Did the customer mention any competitors during the sales call?
- Did the customer mention any new products or features that have caught their attention?
Information like this can help guide your coaching with sales reps as well as give you crucial insights into what is and what is not working so you can up your game at the individual player level as well as your overall strategy.
But getting that information can be tricky if you’re asking a sales rep long after the fact. Data entry is never a favorite activity and memories get hazy, especially after a whole day of sales.
Treat Your CRM Like Your Playbook
Your CRM is what keeps everything transparent, recorded, and accessible to you as the coach. With it, you can take some of the questions above and cross-reference them with other information. For example, if one sales rep is having trouble pushing a promotion, that’s a one-on-one coachable moment between you two. But if you look through your CRM and it turns out that most mentions of a promotion don’t drive sales… you might have a bigger pivot to make.
Ultimately, the usefulness of your playbook comes down to the fidelity of your information, which relies on how well your sales reps are engaging with your CRM. If your sales reps are giving you clear info after every sales call, you’ll have a clear path. If they give you sporadic chicken scratch at the end of the day, you can probably guess what your path looks like.
You might consider this the front-lines of coaching: it’s imperative that you get your team on board with a reliable routine that gets you the information you need. Once you’ve got a regular influx of information, you can start making game-changing moves.
Take Your Info and Get in the Game
It’s important to have all this information from your sales reps, but it’s vital that you implement the insights you can glean from these details. Once you have a CRM that covers all your bases, you can look at your sales strategy from a variety of angles:
- The big picture to understand where you and your team are headed
- The call-by-call breakdowns that help you know how to guide individual players
- The combined knowledge to know whether the issue is your team, your pricing and promotions, your product, or the market
Find out your sales rep has a soft-selling playstyle? Start coaching them on better strategies for your product and market.
Turns out your customers mention a competitor a lot? Do some research and find out what makes them strong so you can better compete.
Numbers are rising and sales have higher engagement? Take a step back, let your sales reps do their jobs, and figure out how you can improve things elsewhere.
The point is, you need clear information in an organized CRM to be the coach your team needs. Don’t have it? You may as well be back in the locker room. But with that knowledge and direction, you’ll be able to identify the problems, determine a solution, and lead your sales team to win after win after win.