In a recent LinkedIN discussion, Michael Gerard asked:  How do you establish a culture in a direct sales organization that encourages first and second line sales managers to be better coaches versus simply "super reps"?What specific steps has your organization taken to create this type of culture?

My response –

Excellent topic. This week, in fact, I told a new client that sales training would fail without a culture change.

For now, let's focus on three areas of interaction between sales reps and their managers. The below can serve as a checklist to see if your culture is one of "manager-coach" or "manager-super rep".

(BTW, "call" and "meeting" are interchangeable.)

1) Prior to the sales call – Do the managers have sales stage appropriate role plays they can access to help the rep prepare and practice for the call or do they merely tell the rep, "Here's what I would do."?

2) On the sales call – Do they allow the rep to run the call or meeting or do they take over? In a "manager-coach" culture, the manager lets the rep maintain his important role, but can still save the day by calling a timeout (sorry for the sports metaphor) or stepping in during the summation if the rep has missed something. In a "manager-super rep" culture, the manager is so excited to talk to a prospect, or worse, get the glory, he/she takes all the power and influence away from the rep by talking throughout the call or meeting.

3) After the sales call – Have the managers set the expectation with their reps that they will be asked particulate opportunity qualifying questions after sales calls? Is there a process set for reps to document or recap sales calls to prospects/clients that the managers can review and edit? With the "Manager-super rep" culture, too often post-sales calls interactions boil down to "What percentage are you now forecasting the opportunity?"

I hope this helps.