Inventory management, motivation, hiring, account management, in-field coaching - these are just a few of the job functions of today's sales manager.Which is most critical for the sales manager to master? Without question, it's in-field coaching.This often is one of the most overlooked areas of a sales manager's responsibilities, but it has the greatest impact on a sales department. If you have a good in-field coach, your reps develop at a marginal rate. But if you have a great infield coach, your reps (in most cases) will
It's tempting to sit behind the desk and look at your sales goals and budgets, but you are not doing your job if you are not in the field on a regular basis, coaching your sales reps to superior performance. After all, where is the head coach during a football or basketball game? Right there on the sideline, of course - not up in the press box. As a sales manager, you are the head coach of the sales department, and you should be out there with your team, not hiding behind a desk or a mound of paperwork.
With that in mind, here is a checklist to make sure this all-too-important element gets its deserved attention.
TIME: This will vary, depending on your market, the number of reps and how many stations you are managing. However, don't use the above as an excuse for not getting out in the field to coach your reps. A good rule of thumb is for managers to average 40-60 percent of their time coaching in the field. Think about running your department(s) from the field from Tuesday through Thursday. Whatever the days or the percentage, make sure you commit to a percentage and then stick with it.
RIDE THE FULL DAY: The temptation here is for the sales manager to cherry-pick certain
calls with the reps. This makes the sales manager feel good, as they make a call or two during the day and head back to the office to sit behind the desk again. Spending the entire day will give you, the sales manager, a real feel for what your people are doing. You will find out whether your reps are putting in a full day of work in the field. Leave at 9 a.m. and come back at 4 p.m. When your rep has no appointments after 2 p.m. (and
this is also what you're looking for), don't head back to the office. Instead, stay out and prospect with them. Show them how to put in a full day and what you expect. This will also show them you lead from the front lines.
ELEMENT OF SURPRISE: If you're predictable in your in-field coaching schedule, all sales reps will have a great day prepared - or they should have. Many sales managers will argue that they don't want to surprise their reps, as it might show a lack of trust. There's nothing wrong with the sales reps? not knowing which rep you'll ride with that day. With this approach, all reps will be ready. Don't back down here - there's nothing wrong with keeping them guessing. Remember, you are the sales manager, and you run your department.
THEY'RE YOUR ACCOUNTS: Remember, your No. 1 job responsibility (besides making your
boss look good) is to maximize all the accountsthat should be on your radio stations. The reps don't own the accounts. As the sales manager, you do.
GRADE YOUR IN-FIELD COACHING: When we were in school, we were graded - and it should be no different in sales. Most sales managers do not have an in-field coaching guide to evaluate their sales reps? performance in the field. I've prepared one that takes five minutes to fill out at the end of the day.You then hand it over to your rep so the rep can see how he/she did. Even senior reps love the feedback and expect it. Remember, they want to get better, too. For a copy of the IFC form, e-mail me at the address below.