“Coaching is not a component within the sales manager role; managing is now a component of the new coaching role.”
It got me thinking about a current client and the realization they did not have a formal way to operationalize coaching skills for their front line sales leaders. This is a much deeper subject than a short blog article, but I wanted to cover one critical aspect for front line sales leaders that highlights the difference between managing and coaching.
Since you are now responsible for the team number, the default management perspective is that you have reps report weekly on “their numbers”. However a coaching perspective follows this “Jackism” - something my partner Jack Napoli says a lot “Manage activities not results”.
Here is additional quote from Carole Mahoney on what happens when you only manage numbers.
“Here's the thing- it`s no wonder that sellers needed our help when their own managers aren't doing these basics and worse- the interaction they have with the managers is to report on the numbers, not on what they actually need to do to get to that number and how best to do it.
And while we are on the numbers, how real are those numbers that the managers are getting to report up to executive leadership? If the salespeople are basing the likelihood of their opportunities to close on where they “think” they are in the sales process with no real understanding of where the buyer is in their process and what actions buyers are taking that indicate alignment to the sales process, isn't their forecast really a whole lot of big fat happy ears guessing?”
Let’s take a look at MEDDIC in the context of coaching and the forecast. (for those unfamiliar with MEDDIC qualification, here is the link to the acronym.)
- The MEDDIC qualification methodology flushes out where the buyer is in the sales process with evidence. For example, do they have written decision criteria? Is there a tested Champion? At SMG, we like to say it’s a GPS for your sales cycle – where the buyer is really at.
- When properly implemented, MEDDIC becomes part of operationalizing coaching because it flushes out the next best ACTIVITY based on what you are missing.
Mark Selcow, Former CEO of Merced and now with Costanoa ventures once told us.
“MEDDIC helps our sales people SEE AROUND CORNERS. It helps you identify what you don’t know and what is left to be done. In the sales business, what you don’t know can and most often will unravel your opportunity. With MEDDIC as our guide, we set out to learn about the factors that were preventing us from winning the business. MEDDIC is helping us uncover all the red flags, competitive strategies and normal due diligence functions that must happen before a customer can make an objective and informed decision.”
Conclusion: Back to the forecast…
While forecast accuracy is certainly increased by implementing MEDDIC, the real value is in driving sales performance. Sales performance is significantly increased when sales leaders act as coaches to drive the right activities with the right resources at the right time. To do that, sales enablement and operations need to operationalize coaching so new sales leaders are provided a sales consumable framework that supports coaching versus just managing numbers. Coaching is something you do with your people, not to them!