From Great Salespeople to Great Leaders: the power of sales manager training
A sales team’s success or failure can hinge the competence and leadership skills of a frontline sales manager. Sales managers are responsible for managing and leading a team (often diverse by title and role) of sales professionals, ensuring that they are meeting their targets and driving revenue growth for the organization. However, many sales managers are promoted from within the sales team because of their success as salespeople, rather than their ability to lead and manage a team effectively. As a result, many of these individuals lack the skills and training necessary to effectively manage a sales team.
In this article, we’ll delve into why it’s crucial to provide sales managers with proper training and identify key areas where additional development may be needed to excel as effective sales leaders.
The Importance of Training Sales Managers
Sales managers play a critical role in driving revenue growth for an organization. They are responsible for coaching and mentoring sales representatives, setting sales targets and goals, developing sales strategies, and ensuring that their team is aligned with the organization’s overall objectives. The problem? Most sales managers were never actually trained to do any of these things.
This can lead to a number of challenges, including:
Lack of Leadership Skills: Sales managers who have not received proper training may lack the necessary leadership skills to effectively manage their team. They may struggle with delegating tasks, providing constructive feedback, and motivating their team members.
Poor Communication: Effective communication is critical to the success of any team, and sales teams are no exception. Over the course of my career, more often than not, I see new sales managers under-communicating with their teams. This typically manifests as a lack of quality team meetings, a lack of clear direction or directive, confusing advice, and a lack of quality 1:1s.
Inability to Develop Strategies: Developing effective sales strategies requires a deep understanding of the market, the competition, and the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Sales managers who lack the necessary training may struggle with developing effective sales strategies. While they may have been solid as an individual contributor or an “army of one,” they are now charged with leading a diverse group of sales personalities, sales territories, and team structures.
Poor Coaching and Mentoring: Coaching and mentoring are, in my experience, the difference-maker for any sales team. I don’t care how seasoned your team is- if you are missing routine coaching and mentoring- you are missing sales opportunities. Sales managers need to develop a new set of skills when they move from an individual contributor role. They need to become masters at listening to and identifying patterns, adapting coaching models to individual learning types, setting a plan to correct errors, communicating a plan, and holding the team accountable.
Organizations can significantly enhance their sales performance, foster a positive organizational culture, and bolster employee retention by equipping their sales managers with the essential skills and training required to effectively lead and manage their sales teams.
Where might your sales managers need extra training?
Leadership and Management Skills: Effective sales managers must possess a diverse range of leadership and management competencies to guide and motivate their sales team towards achieving desired sales outcomes. These leadership competencies may include the capability to delegate responsibilities, provide constructive feedback, mentor salespeople, set clear performance expectations, monitor performance, and inspire team members to deliver their best.
Communication Skills: Communication is everything in sales. Sales managers need to be able to communicate effectively with their team members, listen actively, and provide clear and concise instructions.
Sales Strategy Development: To develop effective sales strategies, sales managers require a comprehensive understanding of the market, including the competitive landscape, as well as an in-depth knowledge of their organization’s strengths and weaknesses. This enables them to make informed decisions about which sales tactics to use and how to allocate resources effectively.
Coaching and Mentoring: Sales managers need to have strong coaching and mentoring skills to develop their team members and help them achieve their full potential. I’ve found that more often than not, sales managers lack CONSISTENCY in delivering coaching and feedback.
Data Analysis and Sales Performance Metrics: Sales managers need to be able to analyze sales performance data and metrics in order to identify trends, opportunities for improvement, and areas where their team members need additional support. It’s highly likely that a sales manager will have to collect and analyze data from a variety of sales technologies (Salesforce, Gong, Clari as examples) and have to put together the puzzle. When things get complex I recommend hiring for a RevOps role.
Giving quality training, guidance and management guidelines to sales managers will have a significant impact on an organization’s sales performance, organizational culture, and retention rates.
Not sure where to start with a sales manager training program? Reach out to our team and we can create a customized training plan that will empower your sales managers to lead quota-busting teams.