Most executives readily agree that the quality of its sales managers has a direct impact on its financial results. Even so, many companies still fail to provide sales managers with the tools necessary for long-term success. According to a Gallup report, when almost 1,000 senior executives were asked about their initial training provided to new sales reps, impressive responses were typically provided regarding the extensive preparation new sales reps receive. Yet when the same executives were asked about the training provided to new sales managers, the response was usually little to none. New sales managers are often expected to make an instant transformation from successful sales rep to stellar supervisor practically overnight without any tools to help them do so. The little training that is provided typically involves becoming familiar with policies, paperwork, and procedures demanded by the job.
This is because most companies make the mistake of assuming that sales managers do not need any additional training. As a result, they often provide their sales managers with the same training their sales professionals receive, or even worse, no training at all. The challenge with this line of thinking is that sales managers really must have access to a broader skill set as well as have a higher, more mastery-level understanding of the selling skills and sales process so that they can be in the best position to coach. Without access to more extensive training, sales professionals will not receive the coaching and support they need to grow their selling skill set. In many cases, our studies show that sales professionals feel as though their manager is actually less knowledgeable than they are. Again, in order to act as effective coaches, sales managers must have the right level of understanding involving the sales process and sales methodology.
Let’s take a look at what proper sales management training looks like and what makes up a solid sales manager.
Proper sales management training is important not only for the manager, but also the entire sales team. Without the presence of strong sales managers, teams often fall into the practice of focusing entirely on each member’s own goals, commissions, and numbers. Sales professionals often feel as though they are on their own when they are out in the field, because managers are lacking the necessary knowledge to support them.
Robust sales management programs empower sales managers to supervise their reps in a way that allows the entire team to become unified. As a result, not only is every member of the team more individually successful, but the entire team is successful, as well. A sales management program should help managers accomplish the following:
- Grow their teams’ overall skill set
- Identify weaknesses within the team and get to the root of problems
- Design and implement creative solutions that help each individual team member to thrive
- Accept an attitude of accountability for the successes as well as the failures of the team
- Establish individual goals for each sales professional, as well as team goals
- Have a deeper understanding of the sales process so they can more effectively and credibly coach their team members
The success of a company’s sales team should never work in a trickle-upward manner. It should always have a trickle down effect, beginning with the manager and spreading throughout the entire sales team. When sales managers are provided with the skills and tools necessary to lead their team effectively, the entire team is provided with the support needed to qualify leads
confidently, convert leads into customers, and retain those customers.
Sales management training programs should also provide a broad overview of the entire sales process. Managers must learn how to become effective leaders and coaches within their company. When provided with the right skill set, managers are able to share effective sales strategies with members of their team while helping that team to function as a solid unit that is better able to increase sales on a company-wide basis.
When companies are able to get this aspect of the sales manager training process right, sales professionals become more engaged and the company is able to gain a competitive edge. Gallup reports that companies who recruit and retain talented managers are able to not only decrease turnover rates amongst their sales staff but also increase the average number of reps achieving quota.
Outstanding sales managers can be difficult to find, however. It can certainly be argued that great sales managers are not necessarily born, but made. Gallup reports that excellent managers share the five following talents:
- They are able to motivate each individual member of the team to take action
- They have a level of assertiveness to drive results and the ability to overcome resistance and adversity
- They establish a culture of accountability
- They build relationships based on open dialogue, trust, and full transparency
- They engage in decision-making processes based on productivity rather than politics.
With an increasing number of managers being promoted due to their success as an individual sales professional, the need for effective sales management training becomes even more critical.
A well-trained, knowledgeable sales manager can make a significant difference to his or her team. Still, many companies often misunderstand or undervalue the critical role that sales managers play in building sustainable business models and driving the productivity of a sales team. Research indicates that sales managers are actually the pivotal key for increased sales success.
Regardless of industry or size, all companies can benefit from devoting more effort, resources, and time to providing sales managers with the training and support they need. Far too many companies currently operate below their full potential.
When greater attention is paid to the development of a knowledgeable, effective sales manager, a company’s performance is able to improve rapidly and substantially.