Broker Check

Do you have the time to coach well?

| August 30, 2023

Recently I had lunch with a friend who is a sales leader for a large international firm. As usual, our conversation drifted towards sales-related topics and the books we have been reading. During lunch I gave him an update on the Sales Success Playbook.

During our discussion about the role of a sales manager, he mentioned a common theme—one that I have heard frequently and experienced firsthand. The role of a sales manager is already quite demanding, so adding anything new to their list of responsibilities can seem unrealistic.

My response to this reality involves two key points. First, we need to consider whether the task being added is genuinely new or if it is already part of our existing duties. Second, if it is already a manager’s responsibility, what distinguishes highly effective managers from the rest when it comes to executing these tasks?

A prime example of such a task is coaching. As sales managers, coaching is undeniably already within our realm of responsibilities. Yet, some of us have discovered more effective approaches than others. In my experience, those who excel at coaching often lead high-performing sales teams.

Seeking to quantify the importance of coaching, I turned to ChatGPT for assistance. I asked if any surveys revealed the optimal percentage of time or hours a sales manager should dedicate to training and coaching their sales representatives.

Here are the five surveys that ChatGPT provided me with:

  1. CSO Insights, a research division of Miller Heiman Group, conducted surveys indicating that sales managers in top-performing organizations spend around 25-30% of their time coaching their salespeople.
  2. According to the Sales Management Association, the median time spent by sales managers on coaching their teams is approximately 25% of their workweek.
  3. Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Education Foundation found that sales managers in organizations with the highest growth rates dedicate about 28% of their time to coaching, compared to an average of 19% in other organizations.
  4. The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals Leadership Summit Survey suggests that around 20-30% of a sales manager's time should be allocated to coaching and developing their sales team.
  5. The LinkedIn State of Sales Report reported that high-performing sales managers devote roughly 30% of their time to coaching their teams.

Clearly, these surveys underscore the significance of coaching. In general, a sales manager leading a high-performing team spends about 25% of their time on coaching. This finding resonated with me. As we developed and fine-tuned the Sales Success Playbook the need for effective coaching consistently emerged.

You might not be surprised by the results of these five separate and independent studies regarding the importance of coaching. However, you may be surprised that 25% of a sales leader's time can be dedicated to coaching considering the multifaceted demands placed upon managers by upper management, human resources and external factors beyond their direct sales management role.

While nearly all managers engage in coaching to some extent a notable distinction exists between the coaching methods of high-performing sales managers and average managers. The coaching style of an average manager tends to be reactive. On the other hand, the coaching approach employed by high performers is distinctly intentional and ingrained in their routines.

Though I lack independent data to visually depict the gap between high-performing managers and the rest, I can assert confidently, based on my observations and conversations spanning years and more recently during the creation of the Sales Success Playbook, the gap is substantial.

A primary contributor to the shortage of exceptional coaches is that many managers have never received formal coaching training, lacked mentorship from accomplished coaches, or have not been coached effectively themselves, leaving them unfamiliar with exemplary coaching practices. So, the challenge at hand is twofold: as sales leaders, how can we facilitate the development of effective coaches among our sales managers? Similarly, as sales managers, how can we enhance our own coaching skills despite the existing workload? Let me inject some motivation: proficient managers and coaches surpass sales goals, bolster employee retention, and attract top-tier talent with greater ease. Furthermore, let us not overlook the fact that effective coaching stands as one of the most potent tools for year-on-year sales growth.

I think it is important to acknowledge that most managers grapple with comparable time constraints and extensive to-do lists. Equally important, they have access to similar tools and metrics. So, what sets exceptional coaches apart? Exceptional coaches possess the insight to interpret metrics effectively. They discern valuable information during team meetings and ride-alongs. They proactively engage with their teams or individuals, seizing opportunities to highlight positives or address needs. These interactions need not be lengthy; powerful conversations can be succinct but impactful. This practice is what we refer to as "Intentional Coaching" in the Sales Success Playbook. Incorporating intentional coaching into managers' routines sets apart high-performing sales teams from those with just one or two high producers. While reactive coaching still has its place, it is a rarity among these accomplished sales leaders.

In conclusion:

  • Effective coaching is the foundation of high-performing sales teams.
  • Exceptional coaching substantially enhances year-on-year sales.
  • Coaching ranks among a sales manager's most effective tools, ensuring sustained success.
  • Coaching significantly impacts the careers of those under a manager's guidance.
  • While sales management encompasses various elements, one constant factor is time. Learning to undertake high-impact activities efficiently and effectively is the key to “Finding Time”.
  • Great coaches know what to look for and understand that most coaching opportunities do not need to take much time to do well.
  • "Intentional Coaching" can be seamlessly integrated into any sales manager's routine.

As sales leaders, our mission involves cultivating future sales leaders. If I can assist in any way do not hesitate to contact us. I am always eager to share insights and learn from fellow sales professionals’ experiences.

If you're interested in discussing "Intentional Coaching" or delve deeper into the Sales Success Playbook, visit our website at, or contact Joe Lydon at 610-731-3605 /