The Importance of a Sales Manager’s “Be-With” Day

There is no better opportunity to coach your salespeople than during a Be-With Day!

Here’s a question for every sales manager and leader: What is your most important role as a sales manager?  Select from the list:

 

a. To make sure this month’s sales goal is hit.

b. To make sure your company’s customers are happy.

c. To support your sales staff in achieving their goals.

d. To develop your sales and customer contact staff.

 

While an argument could be made for selecting any one of the answers listed, by far the most impactful thing a sales manager can do is to develop his or her staff.  Why? If each staff member has been developed to do the right things at the right time, chances are great that a, b, and c will also be achieved.

Staff development includes these four primary areas:

 

a. Setting clear expectations and goals.

b. Teaching new skills.

c. Coaching to help staff master skills.

d. Monitoring performance and addressing gaps.

 

Of the four areas, coaching is the one that pays the greatest return on investment. Why?  As a result of coaching your staff member will consistently perform key skills at an optimal level.  

A Be With Day is time spent by the sales manager with a staff member, observing and coaching him or her in ways that help him or her master the selling and customer care best practices of your company.  The sales professional plans his or her day to be full of appointments with both prospects and customers, and the sales manager joins as an observer in the field and/or in virtual meetings.  Observer, not as the person leading the meeting.

Effective sales managers make it a point to take the stress out of the day by explaining what the Be-With Day is and isn’t:

 

1.A Be-With Day is:

a. An opportunity for the sales manager to learn about what his or her sales team is facing;

b. An opportunity to encourage and support the salesperson and make sure he or she is properly resourced; and

c. An opportunity for the sales manager and company to invest in the ongoing training and development of the salesperson.

2. A Be-With Day is not:

a. A “gotcha day” to catch the salesperson doing something wrong and

b. An opportunity for the sales manager to step in and sell.

 

Sales Management Tips for Effective Be-With Day Coaching:

1. Develop a list of the things you want to observe. An effective way to accomplish this is to lay out your list following the flow of the sales process.  Begin with the initial stage of meeting a prospect, followed by performing a needs assessment, presenting solutions, dealing with resistance, closing, and following up.  Wherever a specific customer or prospect is in the sales process, that’s what you’ll want to observe. 

2. A best practice is to use a consistent form on which your observations can be noted next to the appropriate selling step in sales process.

3. Let the salesperson know clearly what your role will be during the customer visit – that of an observer and not a participant.

4. Your job is to observe, not to run the meeting, present, or jump in and rescue the salesperson should he/she make a mistake. Even if the customer or prospect asks you a direct question that the salesperson should be answering, look the prospect’s / customer’s attention back to the salesperson and let him or her deal with it.  This reinforces to the prospect that the salesperson is the lead, not you.

5. Key Step – Pre-Meeting Planning. At some time prior to each meeting, have the salesperson present a very brief plan for the meeting that covers these areas:

a. The background of prospect or customer (“What does this customer or prospect do, what is our history with them, and who specifically are we meeting with (name, role)? What else do you know about them?”  Ask for any background or profile we have on them.

b. What are the specific goals for this meeting (“What outcomes do you want to achieve at a minimum, and what is a stretch goal for the meeting?”).

c. “What are the concerns or issues that you expect (or are dealing with right now)?”

6. Key Step – Debriefing. After each meeting, debrief with the salesperson.  Effective sales managers do this by using questions to lead the process of self-assessment.  A debrief must be conversational and low key, and not seem like an interrogation or lecture.  It is important for you to assess what the salesperson observed – and has learned – as a result of the meeting.   Ask each of the four questions below, then remain silent and let the salesperson to fully answer them:

a. “During the meeting, what things do you believe went best for you?”

b. “Conversely, what went less well than you would have liked?”

c. “If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently, and why?”

d. “Based on what you’ve shared, what three things will you do differently in the next meeting?”

Only after he or she has answered each coaching question should you offer your thoughts.  Coaching is not criticizing; it is helping someone master a new skill that is likely a bit unwieldy.

7. By using this same process repeatedly, the salesperson will begin self-assessing each call, even when you are not present.

8. On subsequent calls, make a note of the areas of improvement and encourage him or her to press on to perfection.

9. Each meeting round offers you an opportunity to have the salesperson practice the finer points of selling, questioning, rapport-building, trust, effective communications, and relationship building.

10. This time should be focused on the salesperson, not for the sales manager to field or make calls, handle email or other things not directly related to helping the salesperson achieve his or her goals.

 

Ideally, one day in five should be a Be-With Day.  It is almost impossible to manage a sales team when flying a desk.  Be-With Days will give you a customer’s view of what is happening at ground zero, allow you to respond to situations as you observe them, and provide valuable input to senior management.  If a full day won’t work, what about two half-days or four quarter-days?  In other words, be flexible!

 

Bottom Line

A Be-With Day is one of the very best investments successful sales managers make in developing staff.  There is no better way to have your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the marketplace for your products and services, and to show authentic support for the people who work hard to deliver sales and profits for the company.

This article is excerpted from Boyer Management Group’s B2B Sales Essentials℠ 25 – Sales Management Development Program and B2B Sales Essentials℠ 27 – Observing and Coaching in the Field.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team’s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People™. This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team’s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials™ (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster™

For the past 25 years I’ve worked with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search.  To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.

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