Sales Management vs Sales Coaching: Can your sales manager really do both?
Updated: Feb 23
In order to excel at sales management, your sales manager must have the skillset needed to both manage and coach their team to illicit the best results. Spending one-on-one time with individual sales staff is a vital task that must not be ignored, and must be carried out in such a way that generates actions that move your sales team forward.
There have been a lot of discussions over the years about whether it is possible to perform the role of a sales manager and find enough time to coach the team regularly as well. I believe it is most definitely possible however, you must ensure your systems and processes are set up in an efficient way that enables your leader to focus on their people. If they are bogged down with admin, it is inevitable that employee growth will unfortunately drop to the bottom of the list.
If we break down the skillsets of a coach and manager specifically, you will see that they actually perform quite different tasks, have different responsibilities and because of this, will achieve quite different results.
Let’s look more closely at each role:
Sales Manager: Their role is to give direction.
They have multiple tasks falling under their jurisdiction and often their focus is weighted on sales results and numbers.
They may be capable of coaching but are responsible for so many duties including reporting, monitoring KPIs and metrics, HR issues, client issues, new sales hires, employee on-boarding, training and more that they often can't block out the time in the calendar to spend quality time with each staff member.
Sales Coach: Their role is to encourage and inspire.
They have one clear focus which is on the individual team members and how to get the best out of them, looking for ways to improve behaviours and habits for long lasting success.
They understand that knowing the condition of the team means they get to know their struggles, challenges and goals to enable them to put the steps in place to achieve the best results.
Providing the support needed to succeed
When recruiting a leader for your sales team it is not impossible, but it is rare, to come across an individual that is able to create a healthy balance between both roles and so some businesses are now looking to provide further support, and in some cases even separate the roles through the recruitment of a Sales Operations Manager or Sales Enablement Officer, as well as more and more businesses bringing in an outsourced Sales Coach to support the sales leader and the individual team members.
It is a very smart move to spend time and money investing in your sales employees because the reality is, they are the engine of your business and require ongoing development to operate effectively.
Let’s look at a simple analogy: Would your car continue to run smoothly if you hadn’t filled it with petrol, checked the oil from time to time, topped up the water and given it its annual service?
Put simply, the answer is no.
So if we consider your sales division in the same way, not spending enough time focusing on the key elements that enable your sales leader to operate at their most productive level really is a missed opportunity for ensuring the success and tenure of your employees. And replacing them will cost the business so much more than ongoing training investment.
It is said that the cost of hiring a new sales employee is between 10-15k with as little as 2k spent on training that person each year (source). If this is the case, surely the better option is to ensure your existing sales leader and team members are given every opportunity to excel rather than simply re-hiring if they don’t work out? I know which option I'd prefer!
The success of your sales leader as both a manager and coach will really come down to the efficiency of the environment in which they are placed, as well as their ability to wear the two hats needed to be a coach and a manager. As previously mentioned, it is definitely possible to perform both roles, but remember, some managers may not tick both boxes and if this is the case, outsourcing to support your manager may be an ideal next step.