Sales Coach vs. Sales Manager

Two weeks ago in Vancouver, I gave the longest speech of my life: six hours! The goal was to teach some Allegra Network owners and reps the fine art of sales coaching. I must have been drunk when I accepted the gig because as I attempted to put some thoughts on paper, I drew a complete blank as to what I could possibly say for six friggin’ hours!

Ruh-roh, George!

I accepted the speaking engagement back in July. I took the call while in Seattle, having just stepped off of a cruise to Alaska. Maybe it was the salmon martinis that caused me to say yes, but it quickly became apparent that I need to study what exactly I do for a living because it’s one thing to coach sales people and quite another to teach others how to coach sales people. What I do comes so naturally to me that it’s like saying, “Teach me how to breathe.”

Sales managers are demanding and scary and knowledgeable and experts and sales demi-gods and…not always all that dang competent, but that’s another story. The managers that I have had, except for Al Pulito, have been short on experience and long on theory. They were results-driven and didn’t give a lot of people the warm fuzzies. Think: Sgt. Hulka in the movie “Stripes.”

Sales coaches are, well, um, er…how exactly do I describe what I do?

The night before the speech, I was having dinner with my friend Andre Berard (Canadian Xeroid) in Vancouver and the perfect differentiator hit me:

A sales manager asks, “What did you sell today?”

A sales coach asks, “What did you learn today?”

There you have it. I just saved you six hours. You’re welcome. You now know the primary difference between managing and coaching.

For the sales rep, this difference is huge. Think about it: The only way the rep will “do his/her job” in the eyes of the manager is if a sale is made. To the sales coach, however, “Attaboys” are handed out when sales knowledge is gained. That difference enables sales reps to be more focused and less stressed. No one wants to think, “Unless I sell something, I’m gone!” You don’t think the client can hear desperation in your voice?

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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