the proliferation of sales management consultants, trainers, leaders, and methodologies. There is wide agreement that top-line growth is what analysts are looking for, and we all pay it lip service. It is, as always, execution that falters.

Where do we go wrong? Where does the system break down? Why are so many of our investments in sales management not bearing fruit?

There are many reasons, but this article will focus on two: Who is responsible for this function, and the need for coaching.

Sales management is everyone's responsibility and not a matter of delegation. If senior management identifies someone as chief sales manager, whose job is to make sure that sales take place in the corporation, this is a case of delegation. Senior management no longer considers the job of sales chief to be its own.

This is an abdication of responsibility. It does not work.

One bank that I know requires every member of the management team, including the chief executive officer, to conduct three customer calls a month. It keeps all of us fresh, reminds us how tough selling can be, yet how interpersonal the process is. It puts all of us on the same team with some responsibility for the toughest part of sales, which is customer interaction.

As for coaching, many bankers I know think about it this way: When they get their daily numbers (or, all too often, weekly or monthly numbers) they look at the results and call the people who fall short and say, "You didn't get enough profit this month, you must do better next month."

That is not coaching. The definition of coaching is helping team members achieve their goals by modeling the right behaviors, identifying root causes for falling short of goals, and working to improve selling techniques, tactics, and execution.

In sports, coaches do not sit on the sidelines, reading a magazine, and waiting until game's end to say, "You lost this time. You should have won."

Coaches watch each and every play. At the end of the game, win or lose, they give specific feedback on each activity to every team member. This is about helping team members succeed through observation, advice, prescriptions, and reinforcement.

Many business managers fail as coaches because they themselves do not know what the right activities are. They hide behind "We must do better" -- tomorrow or next month. This is not effective coaching; this is badgering.

Managers' obligation is to help their people succeed through leading by example and showing the way. Effective coaching turns into effective execution, which is the best way I know to achieve revenue growth.

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