The legendary Green Bay football coach believed in the idea that leaders needed to learn their craft. So much was the case that it has been said that Lombardi would run the same play for an entire practice. The off-tackle halfback smash became the Packers’ signature play because the whole team knew it and its dozens of permutations inside and out with a nuanced understanding that enabled them to win with one play.
The discipline of a sales coach is no different. Sales coaches, however, are all too often left to their own devices and not provided the structure or guidance to grow into their roles as leaders.
At the Alexander Group, we have found that the best way to develop a consistently successful front-line sales leader is to provide coaches a playbook that guides them with the three most important elements of their job as leaders – the 3 Ts: Time, Tools and Talent.
Time – where to focus? Coaches are asked to wear multiple hats and often lack the insights on what is really important in what many consider to be the most important job role within a sales organization.
Tools – what to use? With all the tools and materials that marketing, ops, product, finance, HR, and executive leaders dump into their inbox, front-line sales leaders need to know what to use and–just as important–when to use a particular tool to grow their region.
Talent– how to develop their people? Frequently, front-line coaches are converted super-sellers thrust into the realm of leadership without any formal training, much less a notional idea as to how to develop a team.
We believe that all good coaching playbooks contain three essential components that help guide front-line sales leaders with these vexing day-to-day challenges. Creating a coaching playbook with focus on (1) Business Management, (2) Region Management and (3) People Management creates clarity of duty and elevates the entire cohort of front-line leaders by putting the best practices in front of them.
The good news is a coaching playbook does not need to be overly complex. The intent is to get everyone on the same page and drive a consistent approach to fulfilling their jobs as sales leaders. To drive effectiveness and keep the playbook simple, make sure yours includes these sections:
– Stop the insanity of superfluous requests on the front-line managers by outlining the “to-dos” and, just as importantly, the “not to-dos” of the job. Ensure that these rules are understood by all in the organization, so the front-line doesn’t become the dumping ground for all data and sales intelligence requests.
– Clearly set time allocation expectations. It is completely appropriate to script the workweek of a sales leader so that she knows exactly when to do what.
– Define what “good” is in terms of corporate stewardship. As we’ve said before, the front-line sales leader is the most important job in the sales organization. Let him know how he acts as the connection between home-office strategy and field-level execution.
– Show them how to grow their domain. Many front-line leaders haven’t the acumen or experience to critically think about how to increase revenues in their region.
– Incorporate your planning tools into the playbook here. Don’t have any tools for your managers to think about growing their territories? Then clearly outline growth expectations and include vignettes and examples of how successful region leaders set their annual plan for growth.
– Sounds crazy, but your coaches are supposed to coach…people. This skill is one that develops over time. Embed your training curriculum and the coaching cadence to ensure your coaches know how to move the middle of their team.
– Good coaching playbooks include straightforward instructions on how to incorporate your regular instruction, weekly team meetings and annual rep evaluations.
Using this straightforward approach and deploying the playbook to all of your front-line sales leaders will help drive the consistency you need to deliver winning results from your sales team.
Learn more about how you can better execute your sales vision through playbooks.