Many companies spend heavily in sales rep training, but are sometimes disappointed when they see little impact on sales growth. Ironically, lack of results from sales training can often be traced to a lack of sales manager training. New skills or methods that reps pick up from sales training fall by the wayside because untrained sales managers often aren’t effective at holding salespeople accountable for implementation.
Untrained sales managers are prone to a number of problems that can hinder their effectiveness and limit the achievement of their sales teams. Unless they are provided with the knowledge and skills on how to be a sales leader, untrained sales managers may cause the following problems:
Fall back on their sales instincts rather than develop a leader mindset. Because they don’t know how to be an effective sales manager, a promoted salesperson may feel the adrenaline rush again of being that “über-salesperson” and want to chase the big deals. Chasing the big deals means they will spend most of their time with their top salespeople. That leaves the rest of the sales team—the people who need the most help—to sink or swim on their own without a leader/coach.
Focus too much energy where it does little good. Untrained sales managers, commonly, focus much of their coaching time on their poorest performers. In other words, reps don’t get coaching unless they do really poorly! One-on-one coaching will have a much bigger impact on the middle performers — people who are showing promise and eager to learn. Improve their skills and you’ve got more peak performers!
Lack consistency. If a sales manager has no training, they have no predictable management process or common coaching language. This can become confusing to sales reps if the coaching message is not well defined, or is subject to change. This can affect the sales manager’s credibility, and the confidence of the sales team that the process will actually led to sales success. It also makes measuring results very challenging. We all know that a common sales process is crucial for effective selling – so why not have a common sales management process, too?
Not manage time effectively, or know how to set and enforce priorities. Sales managers can easily become buried in “stuff” work, and have reactive “hair on fire” responses to problems, leaving them overwhelmed as a result. They’re working harder than ever but are unable to catch up, and have no time for what should be their #1 priority, to coach salespeople.
Fail to develop or enforce performance standards. Inexperienced or untrained sales managers often don’t know how to develop and enforce high standards on their team. They can’t define for their reps what a “success profile” looks like—the skills (abilities) and wills (attitudes) needed to excel in the profession. If they don’t know what success looks like, it’s impossible to steer people in the right direction.
Fail to follow-up. Untrained sales managers make suggestions to salespeople on how to improve and then assume that person will implement their suggestions. Managers who fail to follow-up create a team culture that’s lacking in accountability.
For these reasons and many more, sales manager training is critical.
Sales managers are often top-performing salespeople who have been promoted into management positions. Their background and experience has honed their sales skills, but done nothing to prepare them to be manager-leaders. That’s why, to get the most out of your sales training investment, the best first step is to focus on your sales managers — make sure they have the tools and training to do their jobs more effectively!