Sales managers are a dying breed, but sales management is not. The reality is that automation isn’t just here to stay—it’s booming. That’s a bit disconcerting to anyone not building our digital replacements. Then again, that’s the superficial perspective. Digging deeper reveals another: automation frees us from one-dimensional management.
To take advantage of this revolution, we must recognize the full breadth of its impact. Digital tools are forcing us to change and, if history is any indication, it may be for the better. The energy we used to devote to time-consuming, mind-numbing calculations can instead be invested in the kind of human interaction machines cannot replicate.
New responsibilities require a new title. It’s time to embrace the role of coach. A cursory glance at a pair of Oxford definitions spells out the difference:
1. Manager, noun: a person responsible for controlling or administering an organization or group of staff.
2. Coach, verb: Give (someone) professional advice on how to attain their goals.
Don’t get hung up on whether it’s official or not. Studies reveal that you should spend 75% of your time as a manager coaching. You might as well take the title, along with the resulting explosion in productivity. Even if you don’t start printing coach on your business cards, it reflects your role as you harness the automation revolution. Look beyond the doomsday talk of disappearing jobs, and it’s evident that those traditional managerial tasks remain. The difference is they don’t need to fall wholly on your shoulders anymore.
Feel free to heave a sigh of relief. You’re already overseeing more sales reps than previous generations of managers. Software solutions are constantly evolving to assume the challenges of KPI tracking, quota enforcement, and many other data-crunching responsibilities that suck away your time and energy better spent elsewhere. As with any respectable coach, you deserve a proper sidekick.
Human coaches are great. So are digital coaches. Human and digital are better. Making tech your assistant coach has the potential to elevate your entire sales force. Launch innovative sales contests, keep your employees sharp with microlearning, and make best practices go viral at the workplace.
Together, you can instill a company culture that inspires your people to go the extra mile. That is the power you wield at the frontier of a revolution. The death of a sales manager is the birth of the sales coach.