Welcome to our second Q & A post of the year, and sorry for the slow volume of posts. Our series is focused on sales leaders out there in the real world building and scaling sales machines. We aim to bring you the most practical and operational tips from down in the trenches.
For today’s Q & A, we’re following up with the second part of our interview with Matt Bress, VP of Sales of Simplifeye, a mobile technology platform to help doctors run their practices.
What interactions / meetings should managers be having with their reps and why?
This really depends on the level of development for the particular rep. At the very least a manager should be conducting formalized coaching and individual one-on-one’s with every single rep (each at least twice a month).
Coaching is far more than just giving them advice before/after a call – it should be structured in the form of live listening sessions, or breakdowns of recorded calls, or off-the-phone role playing and always accompanied by notes for the rep to digest and study. Feedback can (and usually will be) critical, but must always be constructive and provide examples of what they SHOULD have done/said. The best feedback is detailed and actionable, but also summed up with 2-4 big picture things the rep should focus on. These coaching sessions should be structured, meaning you can replicate the approach session after session so that there is a degree of predictability in the format – reps thrive on predictable cadences like this. For newer reps these coaching sessions should occur at least 1-2 times per week. For your most veteran reps you should still provide coaching once every 2-3 weeks. Some veteran reps grow tired or resentful of ongoing coaching (especially if they are highly successful), and frankly it’s easier to skip coaching for these reps when you are already juggling a dozen other concerns. A good technique in these instances is to challenge your high performing veteran rep to coach others on the team (and you provide feedback on their coaching) – you’d be amazed how much even the most seasoned vet can learn about their own approach by instructing others.
In addition, reps require regular one-on-ones in private and safe settings. This is valuable time for you and the rep to engage in open and frank conversation on topics ranging from performance metrics, areas for improvement, strengths or high-points, professional/career development, and even personal issues beyond the workplace. The most important aspect is that the rep feels genuinely invested in and supported by the manager. A common mistake is that managers view this as a forum to unload ALL of their feedback that has accumulated over weeks. Instead, much of that feedback should already have been communicated via routine coaching and the one-on-ones are an opportunity for rep driven reflection and discussion about growth and progress to goal. If you find yourself consistently doing more talking than the rep, it’s time to reevaluate whether you are conducting these appropriately.
Matt Bress started his sales career at Single Platform as an AE, and rose through the ranks to sales manager, sales training manager, senior sales manager, and eventually Head of Sales. Since they he went on to lead as the VP of Sales at Lofty, which was recently acquired. He now leads the sales team for Simplifeye, a mobile technology company making it easier for doctors to run their practices and communicate with patients.