Player-Managers Probably Aren’t Helping the Team

The player-manager may have died off with Pete Rose, but the legacy is still strong in baseball, soccer, and basketball. The theory goes that your best players, as they reach the end of their superstar prime, can have an impact both on the field and the bench. Players like Rose and Bill Russell continue to get time in the game, but spend a majority of their effort coaching and organizing the rest of the team. It seems perfect to put those who did it best – in baseball or sales – in charge of coaching, right?

As it turns out, the player-manager is more often than not failing to make an impact.

If we look to sales, in most organizations, your managers will come from inside of the team. Former top performing reps on a career track are moved to management roles, with far more responsibilities and even less time to develop.

Your average manager might have 12 direct reports, with 2 high performers, 5 middle performers, 3 barely keeping up, and 2 new hires – and one of the top performers is threatening to quit. A vast majority of manager time isn’t spent improving the middle performers or triaging the others, but on rallying the team to the number and filling in gaps by selling themselves.

It’s no wonder that the exception – not the rule – sees the bulk of manager skills in selling, not in managing and coaching. Rarely do managers come from a background that isn’t a sales career trajectory, yet we expect that they can suddenly manage and develop a team. Just days before, they were being managed by the same role.

The proof is in the data – even best in class managers are reaching their reps only 10% of the time – 4 hours a week. Even in that 10%, half is spent on pipeline and account review, leaving just 2 hours on average per week for coaching. The realities continue to be harsh for sales – new hires are taking more than 10 months on average to ramp into productivity, while only 57% of reps are actually reaching quota. Those aren’t stats for this year, either – both are trends over the last 10 years. And at the same time, 90%+ of organizations are raising goals year over year.

What’s gone wrong?

The role of the manager in coaching should not be overlooked – few people can specifically know a rep’s behavior, make a treatment for issues, and know the pipeline by seller – but placing the responsibility for coaching only on the manager’s shoulders should be revisited. There will always be a place for the manager’s day-to-day insight into their sellers, but with strained priorities and business to close, the manager simply cannot be effective without radically changing their goals. The average sales manager simply does not have time to coach their reps.

This leads some top performers – or even qualified non-sellers – to avoid the role altogether. With the chance of success often riding on fate and a stiff pay cut, the best are simply moving to different selling opportunities, not looking to manage their peers. Tribal knowledge is simply lost to churn or independence.

If your team isn’t making plan, and your coaching bench is made up entirely of full time managers, it may be time to take a look at how much coaching your reps are actually getting. Without resources in place to enable, support, and continually train reps – outside of manager coaching alone – the bulk of your reps simply cannot get ahead.

Said best by CSO Insights: Are your 2.0 reps reporting into 1.0 managers?

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CommercialTribe CEO Paul Ironside Speaks at Conversations that Win

Paul Ironside | CommercialTribe
Melissa Hereford | Corporate Visions

CommercialTribe and Corporate Visions partner to explain how you can enforce better practice, feedback and even certification of messaging and skills using video to drive learning.

3 Key Things I Took Away from SiriusDecisions Summit 2016

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Last week –– along with 3000 other marketing and sales professionals –– I descended upon the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee for the 11th annual SiriusDecisions Summit.

In addition to making incredible connections with key customers, having insightful conversations with SiriusDecisions Analysts, and networking with sales and marketing leaders at the Summit, I was glad to make time to do some learning.

Candidly, I gravitated to the sessions that focused on Sales, Sales Enablement, and Sales Operations, but the topic that resonated with me the most was around messaging. With so many great sessions, there was a lot of information to take in, but here were my main takeaways.

#1 The B2B sales rep is still vitally important in the digital age

Messaging is such a key component to the sales and marketing function. And while marketing has a huge responsibility to understand the buyer and develop messaging that is going to be impactful along the various stages of the buyers journey, according to Sirius Decisions data presented by Heather Cole and Christine Polewarczyk, B2B sales reps are vitally essential during every stage of the buyer’s journey with regard to how and when they deliver the content. While 79% of buyers found content very or extremely influential in making purchase decisions, 68% said that their interactions with salespeople were similarly influential. Salespeople who leverage content — particularly early in the sales cycle — were more likely to close deals.

While 79% of buyers find content very or extremely influential in making purchase decisions, 68% said that their interactions with salespeople were similarly influential.

Also key in this equation is that B2B buyers interact with sales reps during every phase of the buyer’s journey – even during that famous first 67% of the journey that takes place digitally.

#2 Don’t overlook the value of the sales presentation

So, as I mentioned earlier, digital buying behaviors are not squeezing out the role of the B2B sales professional. Far from it. What’s more, the sales presentation itself is one of the two biggest influences in the buying decision (tied for first place with the analyst report).

The sales presentation is one of the two biggest influences in the buying decision (tied for first place with the analyst report).

And while the sales presentation is important, we shouldn’t ignore the seller delivering the information or the story that accompanies the slides. Sales reps need to be enabled on not only how to build an effective sales presentation but also on how to effectively deliver the key messages and value that brings the presentation to life. In fact, SiriusDecisions says that the number one reason sales reps fail to hit their quota is their inability to articulate value.

#3 The key to moving a deal forward is aligning the sales process to the buyers’ journey

I don’t believe this is a new concept for most sales and marketing professionals, however, Tony Jaros stated in his keynote that 67% of sales organizations still have not implemented a buyer-aligned sales process and buyers are not one of the five pillars of intelligent growth. The next-generation Attribute-Based Sales process drives sales organizations to define interlocked buyer and seller attributes, and helps map opportunity DNA. Presented by Steven Silver, Peter Ostrow and Heather Cole, it illustrates beautifully how to map buyer attributes and activities with seller attributes and activities.

67% of sales organizations still have not implemented a buyer-aligned sales process and buyers are not one of the five pillars of intelligent growth. Tony Jaros

Whether you agree or have a counterpoint to my key takeaways, I’d certainly welcome the opportunity to further share our approach to effective sales messaging, delivery, and value articulation. Contact Us!