Research shows that sales coaching is a critical skill you need to master as a sales manager. When you do a great job coaching, your reps make quota more consistently; they learn how to solve their problems; and rep turnover rates go down as your sales people achieve greater success and see that you are committed to their development.
So, how much time should you spend coaching your team each week? There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but if you are managing a business-to-business sales team, we recommend that you spend 25% to 40% of your time sales coaching your team.
That’s a lot of sales coaching. If you are like most sales managers, you are probably chronically short on time. So, you must efficiently allocate your coaching time.
Ideal Sales Coaching Time Allocation
A good rule of thumb is that you should spend
- 60% of your coaching time with your salespeople with medium skill levels,
- 15% of your coaching time with your salespeople with low skill levels, and
- 25% of your coaching time with your salespeople with high skill levels.
Many managers make the mistake of spending an equal amount of time coaching each of their reps, but this simple time allocation methodology ignores the potential return on your time investment. The reason you should spend most of your time coaching salespeople with medium skills is that this will provide you with the highest return on your time investment. By definition, reps with mid-range skills are average performers. They have room for improvement. Good coaching can help an average performer become a high achiever.
Salespeople with low skills may not have the skill set to be successful on your team. For these reps, you need to consider whether coaching is a productive use of your time. A time trap is spending too much time coaching salespeople who are failing. You may need to look at other management actions to address salespeople who lack the necessary skills required to be successful on your team.
Salespeople with high skills have some room for improvement, so don’t ignore your top salespeople. Even top salespeople need to stretch their skills. Make sure to empower and challenge your peak performers to keep them engaged and rewarded. Coaching high performers provide a good return on your time, but not as good as coaching average performers.
Coaching New Sales Reps
What about coaching new salespeople? New salespeople should be treated differently than the rest of your team when it comes to coaching. New salespeople ramp-up during their first 3–6 months, so their skills and knowledge will be low at first. New reps will likely need a significant amount of your attention during their ramp-up period. For purposes of allocating your coaching time, you should consider new salespeople “experienced” after six months.
When considering how to allocate your coaching time, remember that coaching is a proactive management tool. That means you should create a coaching plan for each member of your team—don’t wait until there is a noticeable problem, and schedule coaching time with your team.
About David Jacoby