Here’s the whole idea in a paragraph:

Sales Managers used to coach. Often, and consistently. Mostly in the field. But then came along a piece of technology called CRM, a mystical set of computer code magically designed to take us all to sales utopia. Or so many thought. And in the process the art of sales coaching died, or at the very least went onto indefinite life support.

Pre-CRM meant a sales manager needed to go in-field with his or her sales people to understand clients, understand accounts or understand certain key deals. Spending time with sales people in one-on-one situations meant an abundance of coaching opportunities. Post-CRM in many cases now means a sales manager has more data, more reports, more excel pivot tables, and more time behind a screen crunching numbers. And less time coaching. Much less time coaching.

And perhaps as alarming is what the CRM revolution intended to fix: client relationships, has suffered. Not because sales people forgot how to build and retain good relationships, but rather because they spend too much time either fighting the system or entering data. And quality of data does not equal quality of relationship. And neither does quantity of data equal quantity of sales.

So perhaps it’s time we revisited the art and science of coaching? What if there was a way Sales Managers could coach more, without the time consuming exercise of travelling to and from client meetings? Well there is – it’s called one-on-one conversations between a Sales Manager and a sales person about calls, opportunities, accounts, pipeline or forecast. It allows the manager to monitor, measure and coach. And using the right critical questions he or she can rapidly triangulate the truth (on the likelihood of a deal close for example), reinforce what’s important and shape behaviour.

Technology certainly can enable more sales. But not nearly as effectively as great coaching. Fact.