Artwork for podcast Inside: Sales Enablement
Ep12 The Case for Sales Coaching & The Hubble Telescope
Episode 121st August 2019 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 00:36:29

Share Episode


Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 12

Sales Coaching -- the definition matters. Especially with regard to enablement and Sales Management

There is A LOT of noise in the market today about "sales coaching" 

The question is, does it help sales managers become force multipliers, or is it a source of conflict? 

In the episode, the guys use a role-play (Scott based on feedback he's heard from many different sales enablement leaders and Brain-based on research he's currently doing on front-line sales managers).  

Join us at to collaborate with peers, join Insider Nation, participate in the conversation and be part of the continued elevation of the profession.


Nick Merinkers 00:02

Welcome to the inside sales enablement podcast. Where has the profession been? Where is it now? And where is it heading? What does it mean to you, your company, other functions? The market? Find out here. Join the founding father of the sales enablement profession Scott Santucci and Trailblazer Brian Lambert as they take you behind the scenes of the birth of an industry, the inside sales enablement podcast starts now.

Scott Santucci 00:34

Hi, this is Scott Santucci.

Brian Lambert 00:35

And I'm Brian Lambert and we are the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is dedicated to helping leaders understand the big questions they should consider to be successful in sales enablement. On this podcast, we like to reframe, revisit, rethink and tackle reality in the sales enablement role. Scott, why don't you frame it out for us today.

Scott Santucci 00:57

Sure thing, Brian. And thank you very much for everybody listening, that's a great introduction, Brian. One of the things that we're going to be talking about here today is the fuzzy world, the gray area of sales coaching, and the difference between frontline sales managers and sales enablement and to give that some color, the the way that we're going to frame it out is I'm tell a little bit of story about the Hubble Space Telescope. And if you are a science nerd like myself, you're appreciating the wonderful images that we have shoot, they even took a photo a couple months ago of actual real life black hole. It's amazing. It's absolutely amazing. But the story that of starting out wasn't so great. When the Hubble Space Telescope was first released and brought out of the space shuttle had a problem. It actually couldn't focus on, on anything really. And the problem that had is like most complex machinery, there were different teams. One team was focused on doing calculations using the metric system. Another team was focused on using the standard system. And you can think, oh, what a bunch of idiots. But I think no one in their right mind would call somebody who works at NASA literally a rocket scientist, stupid. The issue is when things get complicated, it's very, very, very, very, very, very easy for people to lose sight of, of clarity, particularly lack of communications and the like. So that's, that's what we're talking about. And, Brian, your thoughts?

Brian Lambert 02:41

Well, I would say we don't have the standard coaching system and the metric coaching system or maybe we do but when you look at that, Scott, what's what's your point as it relates to sales coaching?

Scott Santucci 02:56

My point on that is very simple sales. People are smart. Sales Managers are smart, sales enablement. People are smart, and VPS of sales are smart. Let's assume everybody in their roles are smart. It is very easy for us to sit there and call and think other people are not able to do one thing or the other. But maybe we have a bigger problem, which is a lack of clarity. And that's really the keystone of this. So, what we're going to do in this conversation is like most sales enablement, professionals, every single one of us has our own lens, our own perspective. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to paint that a little bit. And we're going to, we're going to roleplay this out and say for the sales enablement people who are saying, hmm, I've read a lot about frontline sales coaching. It's a great force multiplier for us to do. I'm going to provide coaching services coaching for our reps. And the reason that I'm going to do that is because we have to demonstrate value, right? I mean, let's let's let's cut to the chase, we have a fuzzy role. Most of the organization doesn't most of the rest of the organization doesn't really understand what we do. But I have so much out of humanity communicated so much expertise and talent around sales, training and sales coaching, that I'm going to get in that game because I'm not seeing frontline sales managers.

Brian Lambert 04:32

So doesn't know. I would say, don't do that.

Scott Santucci 04:37

What How can I not do that? Brian, I've got all this talent. I've I've done all this training. Look at the feedback scores I get when I actually do courses, my feedback scores are through the roof. Why are you telling me not to do it?

Brian Lambert 04:49

So, I didn't know you're gonna go there. So, this is totally, you know, unscripted, but I would say I'm having a visceral reaction to you taking on the frontline manager role. So, in other words to be more clear, if you're in a sales enablement function and you want to provide coaching services, you should be providing that to from my managers and helping them coach not doing their job for them. Because in today's world, in my opinion, the role of a frontline manager is to drive productivity of their team. And that's their job to coach their people, not yours.

Scott Santucci 05:22

Wait, what are you talking about? Brian? That sounds semantics coaching the frontline sales managers versus their people at the end of the day, the the salespeople aren't able, without reinforcement of the training that we've provided on let's say, we're rolling out challenger. Companies made a huge investment in that we don't have reinforcement in it. It's gonna it's it's gonna die on the vine. I know it, you know it, no one's really concentrating on reinforcement, so I need to do it.

Brian Lambert 05:54

So, I'm laughing because you must have been on the receiving end of a lot of this type of discussion because for people that know, Scott, there's no way he would just say, he does what you just said. So, I'm glad. I'm glad you clarified this as roleplay. So, I'm a listener. Yeah. listener. So, um, but I would say, Okay, um, in that view, then what's the purpose of the manager? Specifically, right? So, I framed about the admin side. And, you know, the role of a manager is just like any other frontline manager, the approving vacations, admin time, expenses, etc. On the productivity side, though, that's the challenge, you know, because their sales managers, they're responsible for, you know, pipeline forecasts, you know, closing deals, etc. And so, when you look at the role of the first line manager, there's not a lot of clarity there. And I think there's a lot of assumptions is what,

Scott Santucci 06:46

Well wait a second, Brian. I don't need to read their job descriptions. I know that their number one job is to help drive performance to their reps, and they're not providing performance coaching to their reps. I sit on all those the court the qbrs. I hear I hear it, they miss the qualifying opportunities left and right. They need help I need to provide a forum.

Brian Lambert 07:11

Well, have you asked them what help they need? To me unleashed

Scott Santucci 07:17

I've been doing this for 20 years. I don't mean to ask to help. When I see when I see in a cube er, and I hear the conversations happening. And I see the holes in the in the pipeline. I gotta act. Yeah, we don't have time.

Brian Lambert 07:31

Yeah, I would agree that you have to act. But one of the things that I would ask you to act on is understanding the role specifically, and, more importantly, driving that clarity across the organization. Because you're making a lot of assumptions by acting to fill a gap that you may want, you may not need to to somebody else, maybe

Scott Santucci 07:52

I was a frontline sales manager before.

Brian Lambert 07:56

Well, that was before not not today where customers have evolved. Solutions are a lot more sophisticated. And quite frankly, the demands on a sales managers time are exponentially higher than when you did it before. And also, I believe that the role has as more from individual manager driving individual deals, to creating team outcomes with an entire team of people. And to think that you can waltz right in there and start telling people how to close more deals. Not only are you going to perhaps undermine the authority of the frontline manager, right, you're also perhaps going to set back sales numbers, because you're not involved in it every day. It's a little naive to think you can walk into a sales process today and drive better results than somebody who's involved with five eight people on a daily basis. I mean, what are you talking about? Why would you even want to do that? Doesn't matter.

Scott Santucci 08:56

Wait a second. I'm the one who trained them all on our newest Sales methodology. So, I'm the I know everything there is to know about challenger, everything there is our reps aren't following the methodology. And I am in a unique position because I trained everybody on this. I'm in a unique position. How do I What do you mean? I don't know. I know because I know challenger.

Brian Lambert 09:22

Yeah. And you you can line up behind the 47 other people that know their widget that I want the sales manager to help roll it out from marketing from product from the CRM team, from the analytics team, from HR from talent acquisition, from product number 37. From the finance people to the operations, people that want to talk about quarterly read forecasts, etc. And to think that you know, you can come in as a sales training bias and say, you know, I taught your people I know better than than you do, on how to manage perhaps sales cycle, how to handle a sales call, how to prioritize time, and and coach people how to prioritize time, how to renegotiate the trade offs on a daily basis on on these demands is not right to me, I would say redirecting that energy to go do something into the, you know, broader team view or the system view is way more valuable. For example, you know, sales managers have the hardest job of anybody in the in the business world today, because of a lot of the pressures that they're under, who's helping simplify what's coming at them. And then with regard to coaching, and talent in general, for example, I think he could spend a lot more time understanding what type of talent you know, sales managers need to get from the recruiting team, for example, there's a lot of frustration there. You know, if you want to teach somebody challenge or go teach the talent acquisition folks, what salespeople are trying to do. You know, I think that would be a great use of your skills as a trainer. But to take over the sales managers job and coach their people on behalf of them is is to me insulting. I wouldn't appreciate it if if my team

Scott Santucci 11:17

Okay, so we're going to end roleplay So Brian, how'd I do?

Brian Lambert 11:22

Well, I'm pissed off right now. Yeah. So that was great. You know, I think

Scott Santucci 11:33

Why pissed off?

Brian Lambert 11:34

Well, it's what is well, I have a visceral reaction because it's real, right? I had a sales manager call me I think a week and a half ago going, Oh, I just unleashed, you know, a whole a whole tirade on my town acquisition team. And I told him, they were screwing up. He didn't use that word. Because it was expletive laden. You know, my whole sales team because they need to get their stuff together. Right and you know, it’s frustrating to be a sales manager today. And nope, if you look at it the reason why I'm having a an emotive reaction to this kind of you should you as a manager should go do XYZ. I one was never asked by you, will it be helpful to when I started actually sharing what I believe should happen, you kept, you know, arguing with me. And that that I think is is frustrating for sales managers to be in that position.

Scott Santucci 12:33

And that was, that was that was pretty heightened. And, you know, the purpose of that is we hear a lot of these kinds of feedback. And the purpose of this show is or this particular episode is to understand the situation more holistically. So, taking a step back, let's let's break down this problem. The frontline, what actually is the role and responsibility of a frontline sales manager If you were to look at this like a Venn diagram, you have two Venn diagrams coming together, you have one, they are a cog, for lack of a better word in the sales machine. So, when you think about the sales leader working with human resources and finance, they have to put together a structure their department, and in that structure, their department, there's a there's a term called span of control. And they set a metric of how many reps report to whom. And it's a very mechanical viewpoint and lost in that shuffle. The job description of a frontline sales manager gets overlooked. So, it is not uncommon for many variations of a frontline job description to exist inside a company and somehow that gets baked into somebody's job performance and what that was, so that's one side of it. The second side of it is I have not I have yet to meet and I'm going to ask you, Brian, a frontline sales manager that doesn't feel a heck of a lot of responsibility. Heck, they're paid their most of their salary is variable, and it's based on their team's performance. I have yet to meet a frontline sales manager that isn't interested in helping their salespeople be better. Yeah, that's right. Have you ever met a frontline sales manager that isn't interested in that?

Brian Lambert 14:25

They wouldn't be in the job.

Scott Santucci 14:27

Not for long, right. Right. So, the question that then is, you have two competing forces. You have one force, which says this job description what we're asking of you as a frontline sales manager is unclear. And then secondly, you've learned how if you're probably if you're a frontline sales manager, you're at least a year or two away removed from the field, maybe even longer. So, you probably don't know everything that's going on. In terms of techniques, the techniques that got you here to where you were may be different than the techniques that work today. And you probably aren't as empathetic as you could be about the change that, you know, last year, two years ago, you're asking your sellers to sell a whole bunch of volume to minion level buyers. Now you're rolling out challenger or whatever, sales methodology. And now you want your sellers to go call sell commercial insights for God's sakes to business executives.

Brian Lambert 15:33

Yeah and 12 to an 8.4 to 13.1 by buyers, right?

Scott Santucci 15:40

Yeah. So, it's something has to give. And if we, if we in sales enablement want to partner and leverage and be a part of the frontline sales manager, we have to realize that they're under so much pressure. They don't have a lot of vocabulary like what you said before with that. They don't have A lot of our vocabulary describe these things. And these are the these are some challenges. So, let's get into some prescriptions now for what kind of sales enablement leader do to navigate? So do Brian, do you and I, what is it? What is our position on coaching as a thing, a business within business a service that sales enablement provides? What's our position on that?

Brian Lambert 16:27

Well one, I would say do not provide that service to reps. If you're going to provide coaching services provided to managers, and start with to your point, having clarity on the first line manager role, and ensuring if you do the interviews, do the needs analysis, whatever your name is for it, that there's clarity across not only the sales management team, but the HR team as well. That that'll be the first thing.

Scott Santucci 16:54

Yeah, so let me piggyback on that. So, I'm speaking to you directly as a listener. If You believe that your greatest contribution to your company is to provide frontline to provide coaching directly to reps. You are not a sales enablement professional. You are a sales coach. Call yourself a sales coach and be a sales coach and recognize that's what you are. For the rest of us doing sales enablement, we're doing broader things than that

Brian Lambert 17:27

Well, isn't coaching underneath the enablement umbrella Scott? I'm gonna flip it back on you.

Scott Santucci 17:32

Well, sure. That's what I'm saying. If that's how you're defining what you're what you're adding the most value in, then you're not a force multiplier. Yeah, that multiplier would say, Okay. I'm so confident in my ability to coach individual reps. I'm going to teach frontline sales managers how to coach their reps. So, the service that I can get the best multiple out of my time is if I can get let's say, we have 100 reps out of out of my time I can coach maybe 10-20 reps, you know, let's say, or I can coach 20 sales managers who can coach their eight reps. Where am I going to have a greater return on my investment? I can build the same kind of similar kind of curriculum that I know how to do. And I can create a common language that currently doesn't exist, just like we say, with sales. The benefit of a great sales methodology is that we have a common language amongst our sales force. We don't have a common language across our sales managers. Without that common language, it's going to be very difficult for me to get feedback on other programs that I could do.

Brian Lambert 18:43

Yeah, that's a good point. I think less than 5% of organizations. I can't remember who put that research out. But they said that less than 5% have actual standardized, if you will, sales methodology and even to me coaching methodology coaching, right? Yeah. And I would even say if you take sales coaching to some sort of one, one page picture, that would be helpful. What is sales coaching? Because it's a conversation or is it a philosophy? Is it a task? Is it a process? Is it a methodology? What is it? And I think there's just a lack of clarity, not only on the manager role, which we both talked about, but the second point I would make to be successful in enablement. Here is, is what is sales coaching? And how would you define it so that it can scale? If you're not able to define it, so to speak, if you're not able to give it an identity, delineate it from a methodology versus a philosophy? Because the first perspective, pushback you're going to hear is from sales management, oh, I'm constantly coaching. It's...



More from YouTube