Most sales managers make at least one of these mistakes when they do a ride along with their sales reps out in the field. See if you do some of these.
No matter how much office time you devote to coaching your reps, it cannot replace the insight into their strengths and weaknesses that you gain by accompanying them on a sales call. Sales managers who fail to prepare or don’t know what to do in their ride-along, however, can sabotage both their reps and their own success.
If you’re guilty of any of the following, you’ll want to change that before your next ride-along.
1. Don’t save the deal. Saving the deal feels good and reinforces for sales managers that they “still got it.” And it’s so easy to justify—your company always needs the additional revenue. Nonetheless, unless your stated purpose in sitting in on the call is to be the “big gun” at closing, avoid the temptation to step in. You’ll create a never-ending cycle of dependence if your rep never learns to close a deal for themselves.
2. Don’t fail to define roles. You and your rep both need to know who is doing what before the meeting begins. You’re both there to put your company’s best foot forward—not step on each other’s toes.
3. Don’t over-coach your rep. The minutes before a call can be useful for practice or review, but don’t tell your rep anything new that you haven’t trained or coached them on previously. At best, they won’t remember; at worst, you’ll also distract and confuse them. If you haven’t adequately prepared your rep for the call, it’s too late now.
4. Don’t comment on quota. Whether you know it or not, your presence on the call is already making your rep nervous. Don’t add to that by intimidating them, even if you’re “only kidding.” They already want to do their best. Your telling them that their job is riding on the success of the call won’t help.
5. Don’t react to mistakes. Your rep will probably make some; they’re not perfect. You’re sure to embarrass your rep and you’ll probably embarrass your customer as well if you react in the moment. In fact, you might even embarrass yourself. If your rep makes a mistake, make a note and deal with it later.
6. Don’t rely on memory. Make a note of anything your rep does that is particularly good or that might make a good coaching point. You won’t remember it as well as you think you do, so you’ll want your notes for reference, especially if you and the rep later disagree.
7. Don’t try to coach them on everything. The last thing your rep wants to hear from you after the call is a litany of everything they could have done better. Select one or two issues that you want to address and speak to those—you can worry about the rest later.
Joining your rep for a ride-along requires both your and your rep’s time in preparation, execution, and debriefing afterward. That’s a significant investment for you and your organization, so don’t treat it lightly. Avoid these seven common errors, and the next time you accompany a sales rep on a call, you’ll be ready to extract maximum value from the ride-along experience.