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Every business is looking to improve sales. So, what are the keys to achieving this? Well, the first consideration for many jan/san distributors is to look at the sales manager.

A sales manager has a number of responsibilities, which could include any and all of the following: organizational issues, budgeting, strategizing and covering their own territory. With a sales manager potentially engaged in these responsibilities and more, it’s no wonder that one of their major responsibilities that could lead to improved sales often gets shunted to the side. That responsibility is coaching sales reps, so they can reach their potential.

Data shows 87 percent of sales managers spend less than 20 percent of their time coaching, says Jim Peduto, managing partner at Knowledgworx, Endicott, New York, a consulting business that helps CEOs improve upon their company’s sales. The information is gained from Knowledgeworx’s partnership with Objective Management Group’s database, which includes information from 1.8 million salespeople whom they have been tracking for 20 years. 

Peduto sets the benchmark for how much time should be spent coaching at 50 percent. He says the best sales managers spend 80 percent of their time on the following four activities: coaching, motivating, holding people accountable and recruiting. Yet, few are even close. 

Many companies do not clearly track the time spent by sales managers and therefore are unsure of the time devoted to coaching the reps. 

“Companies are not even aware of the extent of the issue,” says Peduto. “When we ask what they think the numbers are, the guesses are far off.”

Simply putting in the time to coach sales reps can increase a company’s sales. The quality of the coaching is less essential than the act itself. Coaching in any capacity will have a positive impact on sales, according to an article by Dave Kurlan of the Objective Management Group, Westborough, Massachusetts.

“When a sales rep all of a sudden has someone asking questions and sees there’s someone who cares, it’s all positive,” says Mike Sawchuk of Sawchuk Consulting, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

But again, there is a disconnect between reality and perceptions. The article also found that sales leaders think they provide good coaching. However, when sales reps are asked, they say sales managers are not spending enough time teaching. The disconnect is significant.

Role Of A Sales Manager

The lack of sales coaching is not a new phenomenon. However, it is more pronounced today, as the need for it has grown, says Jim Pancero, a sales leadership consultant and trainer based in Carrollton, Texas. He sees the change as a generational shift. 

“Baby boomers valued independence, wanted to just sell, and do their own thing. So, sales managers said the door is open, and you can call if you need me,” says Pancero. “Millennials are looking for what works. They want to be shown the best practices by their sales managers.”

With the new generation that is in sales looking for training and the numbers supporting the payoff, the role of the sales manager is more critical than ever. Yet, many sales managers have been promoted to their role because they were excellent salespeople. This does not necessarily mean they will be good managers, which involves a different skill set.

Being a sales manager requires an individual to be analytical and motivational, as well as possess a number of competencies. 

“The job includes multiple levels including administrator, problem solver and disciplinarian,” says Pancero.

For Peduto, to be elite, a sales manager needs to have the will to manage, sales management DNA and management competencies to a far greater extent than their average peers.

And then there’s being a coach. One nearly foolproof way to being a good coach is to have a good team. A sales manager needs to build and retain a sales team and lead them. 

Once the team is set (and assuming they have the right skills), a coach needs to put in the requisite time, which Peduto indicates the data shows is 30 to 60 minutes per day, per sales rep.


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