Some of the best coaches are the ones we
had when we were kids. Just think about how many professional athletes give
praise to their youth sports coaches. Since his entry into the NBA, LeBron
James has and continues to praise his high school coach, because he was the
most influential in LeBron’s career. Think about this a bit more, LeBron has
played for two NBA teams with multiple management executives, and a number of other
head coaches (who in professional sports are more managers than coaches).
A coach, a truly impactful coach, is
more than the title given to him or her. A coach is a manager, a mentor, and
tour guide through portions of your life. As a manager, a coach sets the course
toward goal achievement, much of which is by some level of directive. As a mentor
(think big brother or big sister), a coach leads by example and teaches from a “been
there done that” standpoint. And, as a tour guide, a coach has the ability to
provide insight into ones future, regardless of short-term or long-term.
Sales managers, the best I’ve ever come
across, are more like coaches than executive leaders. Don’t get me wrong, every
organization must possess strong executive leadership, but a sales manager
needs to be more. A sales manager must be a coach in order to get the very best
from their team members, the sales reps. In most cases, sports are coached by
someone that has played the sport, and most likely with an above average level
of proficiency. It is not an easy task to coach an eighth grade girls
volleyball team if you’ve never even played organized volleyball. Positioning
and the rules are not easy to ascertain without having been there done that. In
sales, many sales managers fail because they either don’t have a deep or broad
enough sales background, or in some cases they did not come from sales at all.
In taking a coach’s position as a sales
manager, doing so should feel natural to both you, the sales manager, as well
as the team members, the sales reps. I’ve come across many sales managers who
have described their roles as nothing short of uncomfortable in the sense that
they feel like “task managers”. They have mediocre report with their team
members and tend to train and manage from a spreadsheet versus from the
history book. They cannot tell relative stories from the been there done that
standpoint and therefore these sales managers fall short in exploiting the best
from each sales rep.
Coaches on the other hand know how to
manage people from a talent and emotional perspective. They know what makes
their team members work harder than others. They know what drives or motivates
them. They know how to not only ask, but expect, each sales person’s very best
each and every time they are in the game (of sales).
Ask yourself this question: Am I a coach
or a manager? Who do I want to be? And, how can I become the winningest sales
coach in the game?