The future depends on what we do in the present.
– Mahatma Gandhi
It may surprise you to discover that many sales managers learn how to be a manager on their own.
According to the latest international study on Sales Training and Sales Force Effectiveness, many sales managers are given very little or no support when it comes to being a competent, effective sales manager. In fact, many sales managers reported that they were given no formal training in sales management practices, either before or during their tenure.
The study reported that sales management training is the category that is addressed with the least frequency; in fact, it is addressed less than annually or not at all.
The study also reported that if sales managers were more frequently and better trained and coached then their sales teams achieved higher performance and results. In no other type of sales training was a more positive correlation found between frequency of training and sales performance. Interestingly, it also revealed that sales training doesn’t need to be delivered in formal classroom settings.
As with many salespeople who follow no logical process when selling, so it is true for many sales managers who fly by the seat of their pants. When it comes to sales managers many are left to their own devices. These international findings further support our 15 years of observations in the Australian marketplace that sales management development and performance is not taken as seriously as it should be.
Would we let a football coach without any experience or formal training in coaching become the head coach of an elite football team? Not likely! At the very least, we would expect them to do a coaching apprenticeship. In addition, many of the current crops of elite sporting coaches have also undertaken formal education and training to earn the right to apply for senior coaching roles.
Sales managers need support if they are to be of best value to your business, your team and to themselves.
Where do we start? Let’s look at some of the broad core capabilities they need to be competent sales managers in the 21st-century sales environment:
- Strategic action – Understanding industry and organization; taking strategic action.
• Coaching – role modeling, feedback, trust building.
• Team building – designing and managing teams, creating a supportive environment.
• Self-management – fostering integrity and ethical conduct, managing personal drive, developing self-awareness, decision-making, and management skills.
• Global perspective – cultural knowledge and sensitivity, global selling program.
• Technology – understanding new technology, sales force automation, customer relationship management.
As you can see there is a lot to know and apply in the role of sales manager. So how do we support them in their development?
Formal classroom training on key topics is a great start, however, it is important that these are spaced at regular intervals – for example, run over a few months with one or two sessions and follow-ups rather than squashed into a week with no follow-ups. The formal classroom sessions should also be supported by much more frequent activities, which can include local or distance coaching (group and one-on-one), combined with regular access to advice and topics of interest such as talent management, time management, and business trends. This type of support needs to become part of a development regimen for those who are in sales management or those that aspire to be sales managers.
When formal and informal development is consciously applied and supported in the workplace it can produce amazing effects for the sales managers themselves and their teams.
For instance, as part of our development work at Encore, in addition to classroom sessions, we run regular tele-coaching sessions (monthly one-hour group sessions with up to four sales managers) for several companies. In these sessions sales managers share and discuss their needs, challenges, ideas, and strategies for effective sales performance in their teams, as well as their own needs and development as leaders. The feedback has been very encouraging. Take a look at our customized sales training options for more information.
These conversations are not just ‘chats’ they are based on substance and the critical things that sales managers need to know and apply. So, if you think you can solve the problem with a simple, unstructured monthly ‘chat’, think again.
Now that we have discussed the importance of developing sales managers, let’s also remember to consider the sales and sales management experience and expertise of the people you choose to support your sales managers through training, coaching, and mentoring. A deep subject matter expert will be able to provide both the practical and theoretical support they need for them and their teams to succeed.
While a monthly coaching or training session may not seem like much, many sales managers are in need of support and help, especially now in these tough markets. You can make a big difference to your sales results if you take a little time out to develop your team.
Read more Sales Training insights.
Trushar Mody is BUSINESS STRATEGIST, SOFT SKILLS TRAINER, OUTSIDE-THE-BOX THINKER AND THOUGHT PROVOKER. He is a Warehouse of knowledge and wants to share it. His passion lies in teaching Wholestic Learning and Emotional Intelligence.
Trushar Mody is a role model who has extended himself to help others along their own journeys. He works from his passion of helping people live their lives with purpose and without fear. He is a managing partner and senior trainer at Encore Consulting Group.