As numerous businesses are continuing to struggle finding high producing, quality people, many have had to look at those they have and make internal changes to address their needs. Reallocating roles within your organization can sometimes be disruptive but the reality of today’s economic challenges might prove this to be the best option.
Adapting past ideas for modern day
While the idea of a player/coach started back in the 1920s in professional sports and continued up through the 1970s – in today’s day and age this approach is shunned by modern athletes and coaches. That said, can this idea be viewed as a valid option in the professional sales world? Here is a closer look at how this century old approach is being adapted in sales:
- In various companies, there is a hard line between managing people and managing customers. This is generally because people are either exceptionally good at one or the other or strongly prefer one.
- Those who focus on the customer and only want to deal with their own daily tasks and issues will gravitate towards the ‘player’ role. Those more driven to lead people and be involved in solving others’ tasks/issues will fall into the ‘coach’ role.
- From my personal experience I have seen multiple examples of the player/coach philosophy (myself included) be both successful and unsuccessful- so here are four things that come to mind when considering this approach:
Sales people inevitably require a certain amount of time from their ‘coach’ to support their customers and to help them maximize their potential/results. By having a ‘coach’ that also is a player – they may feel they are not getting the support needed to hit their goals in the field and may feel they are bothering the ‘coach’ knowing they are also managing their own customers.
High Pay Off Activities
A ‘coach’ can struggle with how to prioritize the tasks of the day. Should the customer(s) they support take precedence over the needs of their ‘players’? This is something that can be critical to the success of someone in the ‘player/coach’ role; making sure both the customer and the ‘players’ feel they are getting 100% of your focus and attention when addressing a topic with either party.
This to me is a key factor to ensuring a player/coach is motivated on both sides of things. I believe it best that they are rewarded based on both the time and effort they spend working with and developing individuals as a greater part of the team metrics and for handling specific accounts.
Sometimes as ‘coaches’ get further away from the ‘street game’, they lose perspective of what goes on daily in the lives of a sales rep. By having them actively involved with accounts and actual customers’ issues/complaints – it allows them the firsthand knowledge and understanding to improve their awareness and responsiveness. This can be viewed as a valuable asset by the account managers in having a ‘coach’ that ‘gets it’ and supports them throughout the ups and downs of sales.
A shift in the material handling world
While this can be correlated to almost any industry – increasingly in the material handling world we are seeing dealers moving to this method and having success doing it – assuming the right person is in the right seat on the bus!