New realities have brought new urgency to seller skill development, and increasingly, it all comes down to managers.
Recent research by Gartner suggests that an evolution in the way we see the frontline sales manager role is in order. Gartner identified four manager profiles, or ways in which managers approach employee development.
Gartner’s Four Sales Manager Profiles:
While the average sales manager is not meeting expectations as a sales coach, there is one managerial profile that is 3x more likely to mint high performers. Gartner calls highly effective sales managers Connectors; those who are exceptional at diagnosing the needs of their reps so they can bring the right resources to bear, and ultimately help each rep maximize their potential.
We agree with the Connector Manager approach, and we’d like to share what this means in the context of what we at CommercialTribe know about highly effective sales managers.
What Makes a Connector Manager the Best?
In Gartner’s study, three of the four management styles improved employee performance overall (while the Always On manager degraded it by 8%). The Teacher Manager and Cheerleader Manager came next in line with 7% and 9% improvements to employee performance, not even close to the 26% improvement seen overall by the Connector Manager approach.
Why is it so important to develop managers who can connect? To sell today’s complex solutions, sellers must work through an increasing number of functional decision makers and shift seamlessly from project manager to business consultant — just to win a single deal. When business conditions change, as they inevitably do, sellers need to quickly adapt to new sales strategies, processes, and methodologies that make or break organizational success.
To succeed in this environment, Managers must diagnose the needs of their people and connect them outside their direct expertise. This may include the surrounding team organization and beyond. Just like a highly effective seller who navigates the complex sale, Connector managers are resourceful.
Ironically, it’s the Always-on Managers profile we historically have bread in the sales organization. These hyper-vigilant managers do more harm than good through a continual stream of feedback that hampers independence, is not always relevant to the task at hand, and doesn’t acknowledge that the manager may not be skilled to address the issue.
Curious what type of Manager you are? Gartner allows you to take a quiz to find out! After taking a look in the mirror, this research should feel liberating for Sales Leaders. More coaching isn’t necessarily better. It’s the quality of coaching that Connector Managers offer that matters, allowing them to go home each day not feeling overloaded with the unending need to develop their team while making the quarter.
There is no greater impact to seller performance than an investment in the sales manager. Yet today, according to Gartner, just 38% of sellers report their manager helps them develop the skills they need for the role today. And managers report spending only 9% of their time developing their reps, despite the fact that sellers and organizations expect the majority of development to happen in the field and not in the classroom. Most sales organizations simply don’t know HOW to invest in sales manager effectiveness.
We believe assessing and coaching sales skills is core to the Connector role; in fact, it is now THE JOB of today’s highly effective frontline sales manager.
Spend five minutes right now digging in to Gartner’s data around performance-driving sales managers. Do your managers have the expertise to become the Connectors they need to be to maximize seller performance?
Make the shift. Download our free template to build a Remote Manager Playbook that will convert all of your managers into Connectors.