There is no one-thing that makes a sales leader great. But, there is definitely one thing that can make them poor - an inability to coach and develop their employees.

Tell a salesperson to go sell and he will struggle for a day, teach him how to sell and he will sell for life. Ok, so that is not exactly how the quote goes, but you get my point.

At one time sales management started and finished with "this is your desk, this is your phone, this is the yellow pages, go get 'em". This may have worked many years ago, but today customers are more sophisticated, markets are more competitive and expectations for ramping-up are shorter.

Simply telling your employees what to do is as redundant a form of leadership as "always be closing - and - Lot's of little yes' lead to a big yes" are as forms of selling.

The essence of great coaching, in my opinion, is being able to get each member of your team to understand what does and does not work and most importantly, the reasons why something does and does not work. With a team of ten sales people you may have to find ten different illustrations, descriptions or analogies to see all ten light-bulbs go off.

To illustrate this point take a moment to think about the most successful coaches/managers in professional or College sports. How many of them were great athletes themselves? Conversely, how many average, but smart, or less than average players became great coaches/managers?

From Wooden to Lombardi, to Auerbach, to Bryant, to Shula, to Walsh..... And the list goes on. Those who are regarded as some of the greatest coaches/managers of all time had one thing in common - They were able to get every member of the team to understand what had to be done, why it had to be done and how to do it. - they were all great communicators.

Athletes and sales people who have been blessed with a natural ability to perform their tasks will often lead their peers in performance, and just as often struggle when given a chance to coach others. It is difficult to put into words what comes naturally. I have had dozens of conversations with managers who were great "natural" sales people. Often, the more natural talent they posses the more frustrated they become when their reps just "did not get it". Conversely, the sales people get frustrated that their manager can not explain how to get it done.

Your goal is to unlock understanding in each member of the team. Find a way to get your employees to understand why something works the way it does and why something else does not work. It is only after you have taught them how to perform a task that they can have any chance of repeating it on a regular basis.

Go to any driving range and you will see hackers whacking away at golf balls with their over-sized drivers. Nine out of ten drives will slice right or hook left, one out of ten will go straight and look like a great shot. The secret is getting them to understand why the ball went long and straight, because without that knowledge there is not way they can repeat it.

Your job as a sales coach is to get your team to understand why that "perfect" telemarketing call, foot canvass, appointment, presentation, proposal or sale was perfect so they can give themselves a chance of repeating it, every time.

Good luck, and enjoy the process.

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