Sales managers – and the smartest person in the room dilemma

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There’s little doubt that sales managers are the pivotal job for creating a superior sales team. And, a critical responsibility for the sales manager is coaching. Most people agree that sales coaching is important and can make a difference. They also know it isn’t so easy to do. There are lots of traps along the way for getting it right. Let’s take a look at one that receives less attention than some others.

One trap is believing you are the smartest person in the room. This always tends to make things turn out wrong. And the good news is you don’t even have to be to be an effective coach. Being an effective sales coach does not require being the smart person in the room, the most knowledgeable person in the room, the best businessperson in the room, or even the best sales person in the room. Affirmation of these premises can easily be acquired by turning to the world of sports. If they were not true I would hate to be Peyton Manning’s or Tom Brady’s quarterback coach.

So how do we avoid this trap? In sales calls, we recommend that salespeople “ask, listen, and then talk”. This is an equally valid proposition when it comes sales management coaching. Let’s examine two different models upon which sales coaching can be based:

Model 1 – “I’m the expert – I’ll diagnose what’s wrong and suggest what you should learn. Your job is to practice what I recommend.”

Clearly this model has the ring of the “smartest person in the room” dilemma.

Model 2 – “You are the one responsible for the learning. I’m responsible for helping you become more aware of your performance and expand your learning choices.

Different story – here the coach is helping the rep to learn versus telling them what and how to learn.

Getting sales coaching right is really important for developing a superior sales team and having a superior sales team is more important than ever for achieving sales success. Great coaching isn’t easy and as noted there are lots of traps. This particular trap is one that is easy to avoid – just ask, listen and then talk.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Ruff
For more than 30 years Richard Ruff has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Dick has learned that today's great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Dick is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers, and the Sales Training Connection.

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