Sales Managers Must Coach Selling Skills

How’s that title for a “Challenger-esque” way to tell first-line sales managers what they need to be doing with their sales team? Does it inspire you? Or have you already checked out of this article, turned off by being told what to do, despite whether you are doing it or not?

For those of you sales managers who are coaching selling skills on a regular basis, you understand the importance of why, and the rewards that come from doing so. Your salespeople no longer come to you with the following requests and/or challenges, because you’ve already developed their skills:

  • End of the month/end of the quarter discount requests to “close a deal” (rarely does price prevent a seller from a getting a yes)
  • A request to review a presentation full of proprietary information that is directed to the wrong key player
  • Rationalization of why your technical specialist should go out to do a demo
  • Explanation of the features and benefits of a product or service without a clear understanding of the commercial objective the customer is looking to address

 The Training Department Won’t Improve Skills

All sales managers are “deal coaches”, meaning they help their sellers to organize the right product/service mix, plan the delivery/install/training, and set prices/margins, all of which are very important to winning business. But too many managers rely on their training departments to improve rep skills, or they leave this job to the reps themselves. While some degree of this is okay, managers must also take it upon themselves to continually assess and develop the skills of their team. One of my favorite managers used to say: “if you are coasting, you’re usually going downhill”. I love this quote in relation to skill development – it drives home the point that if you’re not actively improving your team’s selling skills, it’s likely their skills are rusty and adversely affecting sales performance.

 Getting Started on Skill Development

It’s easy to agree in theory that improving selling skills is important, but much harder to know where and how to start developing your team. Every team is different, and no two coaching plans look the same. To get started, email me at, and I will forward you a simple Selling Skills Self-Assessment that will give you clear and concrete direction on where your coaching should begin.