TALKING SALES 216: "A sales manager is a high performance coach"

John Smibert

Moloney Ch 10 Mgt book2 700x400       "The biggest impact on performance comes through coaching" - Interview by John Smibert

Good sales management is the cornerstone of the success of any sales organisation.

To adapt a quote from Tony Hughes, front line sales managers can be the weakest (or strongest) link in the revenue chain - essentially in the way they lead and coach their salespeople.

Organisations who have an engaged, committed and competent sales force are the winners.  And it is the sale managers who achieve this (or not)!

Wayne MoloneyIn my mind 'Coaching' is critical to this achievement and all sales managers need to be competent in this function.

The last chapter in Wayne Moloney's excellent book "Your roadmap to sales management success" is dedicated to coaching.

I asked Wayne to elaborate on why he feels coaching is a critical skill for sales managers

View or read the full discussion with Wayne below. This interview is likely to be of interest to the CEO, CSO, sales leaders and sales managers.


Wayne Moloney is a leading business strategist specialising in sales and business development. Wayne has a very specific specialisation in 'lean selling'.

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John: Hello, I'm with Wayne Moloney again - welcome back, Wayne!

Wayne: Thanks, John - good to be here!

John: Hey Wayne, we've been working through the chapter of your book, Your Roadmap to Sales Management Success, and we're up to chapter 10 which is the last chapter.

Roadmap to sales management successWayne: It certainly is, yes.

John: Well done, and I think it's probably the most important chapter in my mind.

Wayne: Well, it's definitely critical that's for sure.

John: And what it is a sales manager needs to be a high performance coach.

Wayne: Yes.

John: Let's talk about that. Tell me a little bit about what you mean and what you said in the book.

Wayne: From a coaching perspective, if we look at each individual, so often people mix up training with coaching, and they will go out and they will invest-and I'm not saying that we shouldn't be investing in external training, but if an organisation brings people in and just runs a training course for two days or three days or whatever and says, "Great, tick that box - we're there." Coaching's about looking at each individual and putting in place a formal process to help that individual address the strengths and weaknesses, improve the strengths they've got but improve even more so the weaknesses they've got. So, the sales manager should be identifying with each individual a programme to help them develop, and that's what coaching is about.

John: And I guess to help do that, we talked previously about performance management and the fact that we need to be able to be a good performance manager, and that means understanding the leading and lagging indicators by individual and what they're actually performing well as in through the sales process, and through that drive our coaching.

Wayne: Yes, very much so. Look, it's as much about self-evaluation for the manager as it is about evaluating the team, because a good coach is evaluating themselves and what they need to do to apply the best development programme or the best facilities for an individual. A good sales manager is continually evaluating themselves and asking for that evaluation back as well.

John: So, to be a high performance coach... What do we need to keep in mind to be a good coach?

Coaching 01 - small changesWayne: To me, the most important thing is little changes will bring about great success. A perfect example of that was just prior to the London Olympics, or some time prior to the London Olympics, they decided that cycling was going to be a major event for them in the Olympics; they hadn't done well in it for decades before.

John: You're talking about the UK.

Wayne: The UK, yes, and they hadn't done well in it for years. The coach they brought in suggested that he didn't need to make wholesale changes. What he needed to focus on was if he got 1% improvement in each of the critical areas of those athletes, he would end up with a greater level of success, so it's almost synergistic if you like. He looked at it, he broke down each of the areas that were critical in that cycling event, and each one was different depending on which cycling event it was...

John: And which person.

Wayne: And which person, and then aim for that person to achieve a 1% goal improvement.

John: Okay, and they had an outstanding result.

Wayne: The result of that was the best success that they'd had ever in cycling in those Olympics. So, to me the key thing is don't go out there and try and implement wholesale changes. Look for areas within an individual's skillset where you can make incremental changes, and over a period of time those incremental changes will add up and have a significant effect.

Coaching 02 - Brtish cycling teamJohn: And coaching's not necessarily about teaching, and certainly not necessarily about showing people how to do things, it's more about being a sounding board and saying, "Hey, this is an area that you've identified that you need to improve in? How do you think you should improve that?" Go through the GROW process; I like the GROW process in coaching.

Wayne: Yes, that's very much the case. You need to be helping that person identify the areas that are not helping them achieve their goals.

John: And help them be accountable for thinking that through and deciding what to do about it, and then implementing it themselves; you're there just as a sounding board and holding their hand through the process.

Wayne: That's right, yes.

John: And we've talked about it before, a lot of sales managers are very successful salespeople, so they've very tempted to show them how and do it for them, and they're not going to learn as much that way as doing it themselves, making the mistakes, and you being there ready to pick them up and brush them off and let them learn from the experience and go forward.

Wayne: Let them learn from the experience, appraise their results, and then praise or redirect.

John: Fantastic advice. Coaching to me is the most important aspect of the whole sales management process that you've talked about, and I thank you very much for that chapter - I loved it!

Wayne: Thanks, John!

John: Thanks, Wayne!


More interviews with Wayne Moloney:


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