According to the Sales Management Association’s March 2016 Research Report titled “Sales Manager Training,” 41% of companies participating in the survey had allocated zero budget for sales manager training. And of the 59% who did have a budget, half of those companies were delivering only generic management training—nothing specific to leading a sales team.
This is disheartening news for those of us who consider the frontline sales manager position to be one of the most crucial in any company. What the SMA research tells us is that 70% of the people in that position are not receiving the training they need to excel at their job.
This lack of training explains a number of issues I find in most sales organizations, including:
1) Sales managers fail to develop a leader mindset. Most sales managers are like me — they came up through the ranks and were promoted into a management position because they excelled at selling. But because they don’t know how to be an effective sales manager, a promoted salesperson can fall victim to the lure of the adrenaline rush that comes from chasing the big deals and being in on the action. In short, they continue “selling” instead of “managing.”
2) Sales managers lack consistency. We all know that a common sales process is crucial for effective selling. Yet few companies have embraced the concept that a consistent sales management approach is equally important for effective managing.
3) Sales managers struggle to identify, communicate, and enforce high standards required for sales excellence. When an incredibly successful sales rep, Caroline, was promoted into management, it didn’t occur to her to offer coaching to her reps because everything had come so naturally to her. She could quickly point out problems and mistakes others made but never offered guidance on how to fix them!
Without training, sales managers like Caroline have a hard timing providing true developmental coaching to reps; they either can’t or don’t steer reps in the right direction.
In their book, The Leadership Pipeline, noted leadership consultant Ram Charan and his colleagues say, “The highest-performing people, especially, are reluctant to change; they want to keep doing the activities that made them successful.” That reality can trap untrained sales managers into habits and behaviors that will limit the success of their sales teams.
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