sales_coach_vs_sales_manager-resized-600I had a great conversation with a sales coach recently.  Individual clients hire her to improve their effectiveness, similar to a life coach.  I was curious about her process so she shared with me how she engages with clients.

I was humbled to learn that I had been using the terms sales manager and sales coach interchangeably.  Boy was I wrong.  There is a significant difference.  My analysis is this:  Sales managers tend to tell people what to do and how to do it.  Sales coaches don’t give the answers, they ask the individual what he thinks he could do better, how he thinks he could improve, etc.  The significance is huge in an individual’s sales development and growth.

I had tended to use the terms interchangeably because I use a lot of sports analogies, like golf coaches or baseball coaches.  They are telling the athlete what to do.  The Webster’s definition of coach is: teach and supervise (someone); act as a trainer or coach (to).

So if you are managing instead of coaching the folks on your team, you may find that if you are more of a manager, you may benefit from learning how to really coach.  Help your salespeople come to their own conclusions about what they need to do and how they need to do it.  They won’t own their growth and development if they are just always told what to do.