A Note to the Sales Manager: You Do Not Have Time Not to Coach

Sales managers and leaders often cite a lack of time as the reason they don’t coach their salespeople. This is to misunderstand one of the primary benefits of coaching: an increase in available time.

Where Does the Time Go

If you have to spend time working your sales team’s deals, you are doing two jobs at the same time. You are both a sales manager and a sales rep. It is sometimes necessary for you to work high value, high visibility deals, but that shouldn’t be your primary role (in many businesses, anyway). Closing deals for your salespeople takes time.

If every problem and challenge requires your immediate attention, you are living in reactive mode. The big dream client one of your salespeople is pursuing hasn’t returned your contract yet because it’s still in legal. Another prospective client wants change to the solution your salesperson proposed, and they’re not sure what to do.

All these things are important, and they all take time. In fact, the better your salespeople do creating opportunities, the busier you are helping them with their challenges.

Internal meetings steal time, mostly without generating any real benefit. Email is also a massive time suck, especially the notes that you are copied on due to a lack of psychological safety inside the organization. The list of things that could dominate your time is interminable.

How to Get Your Time Back

Coaching doesn’t take time; it makes time.

The better and more frequently you coach the individuals on your team, the more they grow and develop. At some point, they will tell you, “I don’t need you on this call. I’ve got this.” By closing deals for your salespeople, you are creating dependents. Because you believe you have to close their deals, they’re likely to believe it, too.

When you coach people, they grow and develop. When they grow and develop, they become more and more independent. When they become independent, they don’t need nearly as much of your time.

There aren’t more than a few choices of what to do when a contract is stuck in legal. A few questions about the context of the situation and you can easily make a decision as to what to try first and what might be a backup plan. Coaching this scenario prevents you from having to repeat this exercise over and over again. This principle applies to most of the challenges you solve on a day-to-day basis.

Coaching requires that your salespeople exercise their resourcefulness and initiative to solve their own problems. The more they can work through their challenges on their own, the more time is returned to you.

If You Don’t Have Time to Coach

Many of the interactions you have with the people you lead is an opportunity to coach. The more you coach, the more time you will have.

If you believe you don’t have time to coach, you don’t have time not to coach.

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