Coaching has long been a hallmark among well-oiled sales teams, and there are numerous reasons why leaders should view their coaching programs as integral to the success of the company.
One study found that sales reps who received at least three hours of coaching per month performed up to 17% more effectively than those who received less. Another noted that companies who lack a coaching program experience an 87% drop-off in organizational knowledge.
One important thing to remember about sales coaching is that although the manager may drive the process, sales reps have major responsibilities as well.
Be enthusiastic about your own professional development
Ask most teachers, and they’ll probably tell you that one of the things they enjoy most about their job is connecting with students who are enthusiastic about learning. Sales managers may not be professional teachers, but the same principle applies when they coach their team members.
If you embrace the opportunity to improve your performance, enrich your career, and learn more about yourself as a sales professional, then your manager is far more likely to anticipate your regular coaching sessions instead of viewing them as an unfortunate obligation. That, in turn, will improve the quality of their coaching and lead to a more effective program for all parties.
Hold them to deadlines
One common thread that runs throughout B2B sales organizations is that people always get busy and have to prioritize tasks in order to keep things running. Professional development is often one of the first things to fall behind, because many leaders consider it to be less mission-critical than tasks that directly relate to clients or other departments in the company. Sales reps are often content to let these sessions fall by the wayside, because it provides them with some extra time to take care of pressing issues as well.
It’s natural to want to focus on tasks that show results in terms of recordable metrics, but neglecting coaching opportunities works to the detriment of everyone in the company. Sales reps need reliable feedback, and managers need an opportunity to express their expectations in a clear manner and work with their team to achieve those expectations. If your manager has fallen behind on coaching sessions or feedback deadlines, respectfully let them know that this is an important part of your career, and that you want to make a commitment to following through on your professional development.
But keep your own deadlines as well
Of course, the gate swings both ways. Your manager can’t effectively coach you if you are falling behind on your own professional development obligations. They are working their busy schedule around coaching opportunities for you, so make sure you have prepared all deliverables and read any content necessary to get the most out of your sessions.
Deadlines matter, so be sure to take them seriously.
Embrace optional opportunities
Many contemporary companies understand the importance of subsidizing professional development classes for their employees. If you are lucky enough to work for such an organization you should take advantage of these opportunities whenever you can, even when they are not an obligatory part of your job duties. Otherwise, there are still ways you can jumpstart your professional coaching, including checking out relevant books from the local library or consulting online resources.
Be respectful of their time
There are many ways you can demonstrate you respect the time and effort your manager is putting into the coaching process. Showing up to appointments on time and meeting deadlines are the bare minimum. If you’re actively engaged in the process, it’s likely that you’re going to have frequent questions and want to share your experiences with them as well.
This is a constructive part of the process, but it’s also important to remember that they have other reps to coach as well. Resist the urge to email or message them a new question every hour, and instead write down your most important questions and observations and share them during a dedicated session.
Put their advice to the test
We humans are often stubborn, and one of the byproducts of this is a frequent urge to ignore advice from others when we think we know better. If your manager has gone to the trouble of analyzing a situation and recommending a fresh approach, then commit yourself to putting their advice into practice before dismissing it. If their methods aren’t achieving the desired results then you can initiate a dialogue backed up by evidence, but actually testing new methods first is a prerequisite.
Offer your feedback on the process
Never forget that you are a vital part of the coaching process. When it’s done correctly coaching isn’t a one-way funnel of information that goes from a manager to a salesperson; it’s a collaborative effort that everyone needs to be engaged in.
When you have constructive feedback to relay in regards to the structure of the coaching program or your own specific experiences, then speak up. Your manager wants to refine their approach as well, and you will be able to offer specific insights that can help.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.