How much training does a sales manager on your team receive to make sure they’re successful as a manager.
Reps get a lot of the focus when it comes to training, and that makes sense – your reps are out each day, manning the phones and scheduling the visits you need to hit sales goals. If they fail to articulate value, they cannot effectively convert leads and drive new sales. Peer mentoring, deliberate practice, and even kickoff helps them refocus and get it right. The sales manager is largely left out of the training budget.
But who’s responsible for your reps?
Your frontline sales managers have the toughest job in any sales organization. While on the surface their job appears straightforward, i.e. hit the number, the role actually has three layers.
Ask yourself which of your sales managers resemble these three personas:
1) Sales Stars – previously were top sellers who could jump into any deal and help it to close
2) Pipeline Managers – focus on pipeline inspection and love to strategize on a deal
3) Coaches – are all about training and development to empower their teams to be successful
More often than not, managers most closely resemble one of these personas, but the best managers are good at all three. If your managers are not hitting all three sectors, then you’ve got a training problem that, if not addressed, will create inconsistencies and inefficiencies throughout the sales organization. If you haven’t addressed these three personas, now may be the time to put in place a more comprehensive training program for sales managers.
Getting sales manager alignment is critically important when introducing new messaging. Reps are typically the focus, because they will be out in the field most often delivering, but to drive reinforcement, you need your managers to inspect and coach to the standard you’ve set. Even with peer mentoring, reps need a firm, best practice example to compare themselves against. Research by the Corporate Executive Board suggests that managers are the glue that stands in between executive sales initiatives and rep-level adoption, thus serving as the single force most impactful in an initiative’s success. If your sales managers do not get aligned on new concepts, reps simply will have no way of naturally aligning themselves.
How does it work? Like training for new hires and tenured reps, sales managers need their own program with the particulars of their role in mind. While basic elements of selling can be assumed, incoming Sales Managers will likely not have insights into specific messaging or products. A good curriculum will rapidly introduce the existing messaging program, products, and sales strategy, while also making clear what managers need to know to meet goals.
When designing any training program, be sure to include your sales managers in the playbook. Not only will you have an ally in driving adoption and alignment, but will also develop a team capable of hitting the number across the cycle.