Mentoring Sales Managers:
Creating Leaders Who Lead (A Case Study)
by Stew Bolno, MBA, EdM
How does a service provider in
the health care business expand market share when they are, already, the
leader of the pack? That was the question challenging a firm that does
the lions share of the business within their industry. The answer was
to strengthen the skills of the Sales Managers so that they would be
more effective leaders and coaches for their reps.
Although most consulting and training projects are a result of a
top-down decision, this unique situation occurred because it bubbled up
from the self-perceived need of the Sales Managers themselves. Like many
of their peers in all types from all types of industries, they felt
pressured in regard to their training responsibilities, communications
effectiveness, and prompting the most out of their sales team members.
Each Sales Manager had a successful track record as a sales rep.
However, all of them understood that the requirements and
responsibilities in the role of Sales Manager were quite different than
the winning formula behaviors they displayed when they were talking with
their own customers on a daily basis.
The nexus occurred when the Executive Vice President of sales read an
article in the Team Builders Plus newsletter called, The Sales
Managers Coaching Kit. This prompted a call and a relationship was
established. Over six conversations, the consultant and the Vice
President defined the mission for the project, clarified the challenges,
and agreed on a systems approach to the project. The formalized mission
The outcome of this initiative is to clarify the role of the Sales
Managers so that they will attain higher revenues within their division
while simultaneously strengthening relationships with their sales team
The comprehensive 7 Step model included:
Telephone interviews with
each Sales Manager at the beginning of the project to establish
personal priorities, clarify the elements of the project, and to create
a foundation of trust
Distribution of a 360-Degree
Feedback Survey to obtain perceptions for each Sales Manager while
creating a baseline for comparison after the training
Completion of a behavioral
profile to determine the behavioral tendencies of each sales manager
(assets and liabilities)
to provide feedback to each participant based upon information retrieved
from the sales manager, peers, boss, and sales team members
Training a customized
sales coaching workshop including:
a. Strategic Planning for sales managers so that role awareness and
preparation for coaching reps is strengthened
b. Develop skills that enhance communication and trust between sales
manager and rep
c. Style-based behavioral language system to broaden behavioral
adaptability and flexibility
Post-training Coaching to
ensure that action plans are implemented, modified, and geared towards a
successful outcome for each Sales Manager
360-Degree Feedback Survey
to create a pre/post comparison that enable all parties to measure and
The results of the process
enabled us to evaluate this project as an unqualified success. A comment by
the EVP of Sales was This has been an amazingly busy year with some
tremendous opportunities to take the organization to a new level in the lab
Upon receipt of the final
360-degree feedback reports, the consultant reviewed the data that was based
on pre and post-assessment results and communicated observations to each
Sales Manager, such as:
In this recent survey, each
and every category ,rating provided by your Sales Managers, exceeded the
highest rating you recorded from the initial survey.
Your fellow team members
rated you higher in every category except one.
In the category of Sales
Knowledge, you increased your rating by 1.5 (on a 10 point scale). Your
boss rated you down by a small amount. It may not be highly significant.
However, if your knowledge base is, indeed, deepening and expanding, you
would be wise to make your manager aware of this fact.
In the categories of
Developing Others and Communication, you rated yourself lower than last
time. Is this a glitch or are you just being hard on yourself. Either
way, your Reports downgraded you, albeit a small amount, as well.
In your areas of
Interpersonal Effectiveness and Providing Direction, you increased your
self rating, yet your Reports did not view it in the same way.
In the categories of Team
Leadership, Leading Change, Interpersonal Effectiveness, and
Communication you rated yourself less effective from the initial survey.
However, in each of these areas your Reports rated you slightly higher
than they did prior. Perhaps, with new awareness, you have become a
Your reports rated you
higher in every category by a significant percentage.
Without this type of feedback,
there is no clear way of gaining a broad and objective method of measuring
success. Comments like those above, when compared to the reality of sales
revenues, provide a clear understanding and awareness of the sales managers
Those who would criticize training and professional development often point
to the relative uselessness or immeasurability of soft skills
effectiveness. However, when the organization is willing to apply surveys,
metrics, and pre/post measurements to the human side of management, just as
they do to financial and marketing matters, individuals and organizations
grow and thrive.
Sales Management (Coaching) Skills
Coaching Job Skills