Can Your Sales Managers Teach Your Reps to Hit Home Runs?

Financial offerings warn that past performance is no guarantee of future success. Shouldn’t sales managers carry the same warning?

Too many companies tend to shoot themselves in the foot by investing the bulk of their training resources on their sales reps and ignoring training for those responsible for managing their reps’ performances. Star results as a rep don’t automatically translate into managerial success.

The fact is, most sales managers have never received formal sales management training. Untrained sales managers are a big reason rep training itself may fail to bear fruit, or more specifically, to impact sales results. That hurts your bottom line.

Pro sports usually don’t assume a great player automatically would make a good coach, but too often the opposite is true in the sales profession. Too many sales teams are run by former sales stars who never received training on how to manage them.

Training for sales managers helps them to better manage their time and set priorities. It hones their leadership and coaching skills. They manage their reps better which fosters sales growth and team loyalty.

So if your sales manager was a star at selling before being promoted, why shouldn’t similar success occur afterward? On rare occasion it might. However, as much as they honed their skills as sales reps, their experience did little to prepare them for a leadership role. So, untrained sales managers too often cause a variety of problems that hamper results.

For one thing, inexperienced or untrained sales managers often don’t know how to develop and enforce high standards on their team. If they can’t define for their reps the skills (abilities) and wills (attitude) needed to excel, how can they steer people in the right direction?

Untrained sales managers mistakenly take on the role of an administrative assistant to the sales team. They may be working harder than ever, but much of their time likely will be buried in “stuff” work and they find themselves reacting to problems or jumping in themselves (“OK, let me see if I can fix this for you”) rather than teaching reps the talents and skills they need to perform better.

And when they do take time to coach, they tend to devote excessive time to coaching their poorest performers rather than working with middle performers – those showing promise and eager to learn and whose performance could improve in tandem with improved skills.

Do great salespeople become good managers? They certainly can, but it can take years on their own. It’s up to your company to speed up their cycle of learning by providing them with sales management training that teaches them the leadership skills and process so important for them to succeed.

Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.