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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

What Do Your Salespeople Think of You as a Sales Manager?

sales manager coaching sales teamDo other people really see you for who you are? Are you maximizing your natural strengths in your work? It’s often hard to know!

I recently worked with a sales manager in our Executive Coaching program and helped him get to the bottom of how he was perceived by his sales team. It was an incredible discovery, and I think you will find the story both interesting and useful.

This manager, who was fully dedicated to coaching and developing his people, reported that he was finding it increasingly difficult to earn and keep their trust. At the same time, his revenue numbers were dipping, so it was more important than ever to get his team fully engaged and back on track. Determined to right this ship, he came to us for much-needed Talent Insight.

Unlike any other performance survey out there, Talent Insight Executive Coaching starts with talent, uncovering the manager’s innate abilities as identified in the Profit Center Manager Interview. While other 360-type surveys focus primarily on identifying how a manager can improve in areas of weakness, Talent Insight works exclusively to help a manager clearly understand their own unique strengths and build a sure-fire plan to leverage those strengths to be more productive and successful. 

Before we could help this manager improve his coaching performance, we first had to understand his coaching potential.

A quick glance at this veteran manager’s Profit Center Manager Interview showed:

  1. He has a lot of innate talent in the People Acumen.
  2. He has a lot of innate talent in the Influence themes - Leader and Persuasion.
  3. He has a weakness related to his attention to detail.

Our next step in the Talent Insight process was to share what we had learned directly with him. We spent about an hour on the phone going over the details of his innate talents and discussing his opportunities to shine. Then, we sent the Talent Insight survey to all of his direct reports to gain a better understanding of how he was using his talents and how his behaviors were perceived by others. Our mission was to determine whether he was reaching his potential in areas of strength and finding ways to work around his weakness – this is where it got really interesting!

Our first takeaway:  While his talent interview revealed a lot of natural strength in a theme called Caring, his Talent Insight scores were very low on these two items which pointed to a significant opportunity for improvement:

  • My manager is empathetic.
  • I trust that my manager has my best interests at heart.

This was clearly an area where he had a tremendous opportunity to improve! Something was getting in the way of his natural ability to develop strong relationships based on trust, and a little bit of detective work told us exactly what he needed to do. 

Our second takeaway: His direct reports recognized his intense Leader and Persuasion behaviors – sometimes finding them to be a bit too much. This manager’s strongest scores included: 

  • My manager stands up for what they believe is important.
  • My manager is highly persuasive.

While these behaviors are shared by the best managers we study, the lack of balance between this grouping and the behaviors of Caring was significant.

This manager’s propensity for taking a stand and arguing his point would have been much better received had he also been viewed as caring and empathetic. But he wasn’t.

Our third takeaway: We knew going in that this manager had a weakness when it came to detail orientation, but we had to know whether his weakness was getting in his way. It was; he received incredibly low ratings on questions like:

  • If my manager says they will do something, I know they will— and it will be on time.
  • My manager can always put their hands on any document I am looking for.

We learned that this probably played a role in the lack of trust his sellers felt toward him.

Turning Insight into Effective Results:

Three weeks after we collected his Talent Insight surveys, we shared his data and our conclusions with him and began his Executive Coaching. We armed him with a strong plan for increasing his effectiveness and set the date for his six-month survey. Six weeks after that he told me that he was already seeing evidence of a turnaround.

Now that this manager fully understands his own innate strengths and appreciates how those strengths align with the needs and expectations of his team, he is on the right track to turn his coaching potential into coaching performance. Just as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” talents have to be perceived well by others in order to produce effective results.

Find out more about Talent Insight Executive Coaching:

Talent Insight