Opening Pandora’s Box Reveals the Truth in Manager to Seller 1:1

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The manager to seller 1:1 is a critical interaction that takes place in every sales organization, and yet it is a black hole for sales leaders

“90 minutes of your time can enhance the quality of your subordinates work for 2 weeks or for some 80+ hours.” – Andy Grove, CEO & Co-founder at Intel

The manager to seller 1:1 meeting is a proven management practice that, when executed well, creates happy, healthy, and productive teams. In fact, the 1:1 may be the single biggest leverage point a manager has to impact team performance.

But today’s overwhelmed and underdeveloped frontline sales manager may not have gotten the memo. The tyranny of managing to the number leads to choosing what’s urgent over what’s important and being reactive versus proactive. 1:1s commonly get pushed, lack preparation and structure, and have no clear outcomes. This dysfunction of such a critical management activity creates a hole that is hard to dig out of.

The desire to help sales managers has led us to study the manager to seller 1:1. In doing so, we’ve come to realize that this may be the single biggest unmet need in today’s sales organization. If you’re ready to open Pandora’s Box, let’s dig in.

The Purpose of the Manager to Seller 1:1

Manager to Seller 1-1 meetingWhy are we here? Without a clear purpose, there’s no alignment on what would make the meeting successful.

This is where the issues start. Because managers themselves aren’t sure what the purpose of the 1:1 is. They know that every manager does them, and they are supposed to, too. But why? And how does it fit into their goal to get their reps to their number?

Most frontline sales managers have not been trained on how to run a manager to seller 1:1. So they make it up as they go along. Often, each 1:1 is a bit different. In my experience, the typical flavors of a manager to seller 1:1 are:

  • Forecast review
  • Pipeline review
  • Deal review
  • Coaching

But what if I told you the most common type of 1:1 isn’t any of these. It’s actually all of them combined into one meeting!

Successfully executing any of these interactions with a seller requires practice and discipline. Trying to accomplish them all in one meeting is downright impossible! The discussion jumps from topic to topic and quickly becomes a disaster that is a testament to the fact that no one is sure what the purpose of this meeting actually is!

Managers must establish a set agenda for their 1:1s and develop a cadence with their team that allows them to focus on each of these interactions separately at various points in the month and/or quarter. Get this simple, but often overlooked, piece right and you are on your way to better 1:1s.

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Failure to Take Off and Land

Without a clear purpose, we’re off to a rough start. But a well-structured agenda will still make this meeting work. Extra credit if the manager has transferred ownership to the seller to own the agenda and it’s documented in a way that creates clarity and structure.

Without an agenda, the meeting is likely to meander aimlessly into irrelevance. Fear not, you can still make it worthwhile if there are clear actions items that come out of the meeting. Actions could include:

  • Submitting a revised forecast
  • Executing on agreed upon pipeline goals
  • Inviting manager to a call
  • Drafting an email for review
  • Scheduling an internal meeting

If you are a sales manager with 8 to 10 direct reports, this can be pretty hard to keep track of. Don’t be surprised if these actions float into the ether, never to be seen again.

After establishing a purpose, take off and landing the meeting tend to be the lowest hanging fruit to be addressed that will also provide the biggest payback.

Manager and Seller Should Feel Good

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” – Albert Einstein

A sales managers’ list of tasks includes rolling up the forecast, managing the pipeline, and closing business. That’s the easy part! What differentiates an average sales manager from a great one is their ability to remove roadblocks for their sellers. But while the manager may parachute in to save the day from time to time, this is not a scalable strategy for success. Helping the seller come to his or her own realization to solve a problem is.

When a manager is using the appropriate mix of guiding versus telling, the seller learns not to come to the manager for a solution, but rather with a problem that can be solved together. The same basic discovery and active listening skills that make for an effective sales conversation are a manager’s friend in the 1:1. There is typically at least one issue that, if solved for the seller, would make a big difference in the coming week. Isolate and focus on it.

If this sounds like more art than science, it is. But it’s also critical. A manager can get the mechanics of the 1:1 right, but if there is no trust the seller will be more likely to see the manager as in their way rather than a partner.

One simple way to find out is to ask! How was this meeting? Was it useful? Why or why not? What should we keep doing or start doing? Seeking feedback is an unnatural but highly effective way to instantly make this meeting better.

Conclusion

With limited direction outside of “get to your number”, it’s no wonder the average sales manager can get lost. When manager to seller 1:1s lack a clear purpose, fail to take off and land effectively and don’t feel good for either party, it’s a recipe for dysfunction.

Think of it this way: if your sales calls were to resemble anything like this picture, would you expect to sell anything? I don’t think so.

The manager to seller 1:1 is the key force multiplier moment an organization has to lift sales team performance, and it’s time we start facing that reality head-on.

 

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How to Master Data-Driven Sales Management

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A holistic approach to optimizing your sales team with data-driven sales management

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

~ Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers

In sales, it’s the close that gets all the glory. When that deal gets marked “Closed Won” and the gong is rung, for a bright and shining moment the people rejoice.

But, for most companies, making a sale isn’t a one-time event. That one shining moment was preceded by weeks or months of drudgery and hard work. That new customer was once but a glimmer in a sea of data and noise. Then they surfaced through an ad campaign or a cold call, and the struggle to reel the account in ensued.

High-performers make a habit of consistently executing each activity, no matter how inglorious, they need to move leads through the funnel efficiently and effectively. And frontline managers who use a formal, data-driven approach to managing and coaching develop more high-performing reps within their teams.

Some sales organizations focus on managing the activities of their sales teams. They set KPI goals on how many calls to place, emails and InMails to send, and connection requests each seller should complete in a given time period and track to that goal. Other companies focus on conversation management. They set specific standards for how sellers should speak during the discovery call, present the demo, and close to next steps and they track how well each seller stays within their set talk-track.

Truly forward-thinking sales organizations focus on sales manager development to optimize their sales teams. They recognize that the frontline sales manager is the catalyst to improving rep performance, and they take a holistic approach to enabling them with data-driven sales management tools and processes. This approach integrates tracking both activity and conversation data to inform their management and coaching interactions.

Data-Driven Sales Activity Management

leveleleven data-driven sales management_300pxSuccess in sales isn’t just about the close. It’s the consistent, collective activities that each member of your team must deploy on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to keep your pipelines healthy and active. Most of these activities get none of the glory, yet are the foundation of every successful close.

Activity management sets and tracks the rhythm of every sales rep’s day. It’s the number of new prospects, cold calls, emails, follow-ups, etc. that they must execute to guide potential customers through the funnel.

As Bob Marsh, Founder of LevelEleven, puts it, “No matter how good you are at selling, you’re not spending all day closing deals. You’re spending 99% of your time on the behaviors and activities you’re hoping are going to lead to sales.”

Sales activity management provides the data your sales managers need to determine if their reps are performing these activities as expected. This activity data provides your sales managers with visibility into what their high-performers are doing with their time, versus the activity of their mid or low-performers.

Visibility informs your sales managers on how to coach reps to improve the level of activity they need to perform in order to be successful. Data-driven sales activity management also helps sales organizations track and determine what activities create value for your company (and your customers) and which ones do not.

Data-Driven Sales Conversation Management

commercialtribe data-driven sales managementActivity data is critical to improving your sales team’s performance, but it is not the complete story. Conversation optimization closes the gap that is created between efficiency and effectiveness. If two of your reps are making the same number of phone calls and sending the same emails, yet one is outperforming the other by 20%, what is the cause?

Data-driven sales management isn’t just about inspecting activities logged in Salesforce. It also requires cracking open the conversations your sellers are having with prospects and customers to understand where gaps exist within these interactions.

In fact, on average, your reps are wasting 25% of their qualified opportunities once they do get one on the line. This trend is due to several factors

  1. Lack of defined sales process and messaging
  2. Lack of data-driven sales management development and coaching
  3. Lack of a formal sales management cadence

Data-driven conversation management enables sales managers to help their reps make every sales interaction count. It gives managers powerful insights into what their teams are saying and doing within their activities. And it helps them identify what areas each rep needs coaching in to improve each conversation. It also provides your sales organizations with critical intelligence into what your high-performers are doing, so you can apply what is working well to the rest of your team.

Optimize Your Sales Team

A holistic approach to data-driven sales management uses both activity and conversation management systems to give managers and leaders the best view of what variables improve performance—and how to apply them to shift the middle.

Taking a data-driven approach to formalizing your team’s sales management processes helps build a healthy pipeline, optimize pipeline velocity, and gets your team to goal. Contrary to average sales teams, where each quarter is a mad dash to the finish line, data-driven sales teams consistently sustain quota attainment and revenue growth into the future.

Data-driven sales management is not a one-time event but requires continued observation, measurement, and coaching to develop the behaviors that get your team to goal. The good news for today’s busy frontline sales manager is that sales technology now enables data-driven sales management more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

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How to Build Your Sales Management Cadence

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Great sales leaders have a sales management cadence that sets the rhythm of their team.

The idea of a sales cadence is not new. Sales organizations have been using the concept for years to structure how and when sellers deploy touchpoints with prospects and clients throughout the buyer’s journey. Rarely, though, is a sales management cadence used to build formality into frontline sales managers’ schedules.

In his article, Great Sales Leaders Have Incredible Sales Cadence – Do you?, Josh Horstmann explains that in his experience consulting with a great number of organizations, the one thing that separates great sales leaders from average ones is the quality of their sales management cadence.

What is cadence? Cadence is defined as “The flow or rhythm of events, especially the pattern in which something is experienced.”

Building formality into the flow of your sales team’s management rhythm provides sales managers with the framework they need to succeed and sellers with the coaching and development they need to reliably hit their number.

Why You Need A Sales Management Cadence

sales management cadence why 300pxFrontline sales managers today have a lot on their plates. They are hiring and firing, training and coaching, they have new products and messaging to bring to market, CRM data to maintain, reports to pull, meetings to attend, pipeline reviews, joint calling… The list of activities seems endless and they are all high-priority. In this environment, it is difficult for even some veteran sales managers, not to mention your newbies, to know exactly how much time they should be spending on each task or activity. A sales management cadence provides your managers with a framework for success.

Your sales management cadence also helps you set expectations with your managers so you can focus on optimizing these activities, rather than worrying about whether or not they are happening and to what standard. This level of activity management is often deployed for rep performance management, but rarely for frontline managers. With a documented sales management cadence, your managers know exactly what you expect them to do and how often you expect them to do it. There is no ambiguity nor surprises when the time comes for one-on-ones and performance reviews with your managers.

Finally, a sales management cadence gets your entire sales team pulling together. In his article, Horstmann relates the concept of a sales management cadence to rowing a boat. He writes:

It can be such a struggle – as you fight choppy waters, you can’t keep the boat straight, and your progress is stunted. The key is just to find the right rhythm. Once you find that rhythm, the momentum of your entire team will increase, and you can all ride smoothly. All of a sudden you realize that you’re moving at 100 mph, but it feels effortless. All that you notice now is the cool breeze on your face and all the other teams in your wake.

If you have ever rowed a boat, you know exactly what Horstmann is referring to. That feeling—sometimes fleeting—when everyone is in-sync and cutting across the water almost effortlessly. When you build your sales management cadence, you are putting the framework in place to get to the point with your sales team. It takes work and discipline, but it is possible.

Building Your Sales Management Cadence

sales management cadence tool 300pxTo get your team on the same rhythm, you need to take the necessary steps to lay the foundation, create the framework, and then implement your cadence throughout the team. For established sales teams with tenured managers, this process can take some time. Remember to stay focused on the long-term goal and be patient with the process.

Step 1: Start by downloading this free sales management cadence builder CommercialTribe created to help our sales manager enablement customers formalize their management processes.

Step 2: Determine which management interactions are important to your team. You may want to collaborate with your sales enablement and operations teams to align on what interactions are important to the organization as a whole and determine the desired outcomes.

Step 3: Select the desired frequency and duration of meetings for your team. Should frontline managers be doing weekly one-on-ones, bi-weekly pipeline reviews, and so on? Clearly document the specific cadence of these activities in your sales management cadence.

Step 4: Share your new sales management cadence with managers. Note that it is not enough to simply attach it to an email with the ol’ “have at it”. Sit your managers down and outline specifically why you are implementing a sales management cadence, what it means for them and how they should use it, what your expectations are, and how you will be tracking that they are using it.

Expect to coach your sales managers on how to use your sales management cadence on an ongoing basis. Check in with them during your one-on-ones to determine if they are using it and to what standard, listen to and understand their feedback, and offer course-corrections when needed.

Common Mistakes Sales Managers Make with Sales Management Cadence

1. Managers take over sales calls

Joint calling exists so managers can observe their sellers in action, assess their capabilities, and provide coaching. But this cannot happen if every time a manager joins a call the seller barely speaks. That sales call may go well, but what about the thousands of others the manager is not on? It is OK for a manager to have a clearly defined partner role on any sales call, but taking over calls will ultimately impede seller development.

2. Managers observe too few sales calls

Spending time with their team in real-world calls and meetings is a critical sales management activity. Not only can they help close business, but it also allows managers to be attuned to their sellers’ development needs. Inexperienced managers will just join the calls of their newer sellers and trust more tenured sellers have mastered the conversation. This is a short-sighted view of seller development and coaching.

3. Frequently rescheduling or canceling internal meetings

For sales managers, there is always a critical call to join or activity that feels urgent. The temptation is to push regularly scheduled internal meetings to “fight fires”. Instead, sales managers must set the expectation that recurring internal meetings are the most important events on the team’s calendar.

4. Internal meetings lack purpose and agenda

When sellers don’t know what is expected of them and the manager is not prepared, regularly scheduled internal meetings end up wasting time. If this happens enough, trust erodes and everyone takes the time together less seriously.

5. Trying to do too much in one meeting

A sales manager’s favorite catchall is the 1:1. This (often weekly) meeting may be part forecast review, part pipeline review or part deal review—sometimes all at the same time! While lack of time is a real challenge, each of these meetings can be meaty subjects in and of themselves. It’s helpful for both manager and seller to separate these conversations into different meetings to create clarity in how the time will be spent.

The impact of building (and, importantly, maintaining) a sales management cadence is improved sales performance through clarity, structure, and consistency in the interactions between your frontline managers and their sellers. Once your team hits its rhythm, you will experience a renewed flow.

 

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The Proven Secret to Empower Better Sales Managers

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Improve the quality and frequency of conversations between reps and managers with calibrated leadership teams

How do you spend an entire day in a room with sales enablement, sales operations, and sales leaders? In constructive conflict of course!

Throughout 2017, my team and I hosted a series of Sales Manager Effectiveness Workshops across the country. From San Francisco to Dallas, Chicago to Boston sales leadership, enablement, and operations all showed up because there is one key thing they can agree on: We need to help frontline sales managers become more effective.

Though each of these functional areas have a common goal, they all agree with this statement for different reasons:

For Sales Enablement, it’s far easier for managers to kill any change initiative than support it.

For Sales Operations, key business metrics like forecast and pipeline become unreliable without managers who regularly inspect and coach to them.

For Sales Leaders, a sales management cadence looks great on a piece of paper, but when managers are consistently under pressure to choose the urgent over the important it is not well executed.

Calibrated assessment aligns the needs of all three of these stakeholders to help frontline sales managers become more effective by providing the coaching framework they need to succeed.

The Power of Calibration

Jim Collins said: “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.”

When we’re talking about assessing sales teams, calibration is really code for alignment. When you get sales enablement, sales operations, and sales leaders together in the same room the way we did during our workshops, you get a wide variety of perspectives on the skills or attributes that sales managers need to be successful.

Calibration helps sales organizations work past this noise to align with what the company as a whole needs in order to hit the revenue goal. Stakeholders in each functional area will have their own ideas on how best to get there, but no one group can go off and accomplish goal attainment alone.

Calibration also helps the leadership team build trust and buy-in from their frontline sales managers. Think about it: What if your management team agreed on how they were going to manage? I’m not talking about them being told how to manage, but that they are bought into a unified process of management—and they live it every day. This is the power of calibration.

Calibration Empowers Sales Leaders

Think about your job as the sales leader. You spend a great deal of your time strategizing, planning, organizing and motivating. But at some point, your team has to go out and do the work. And this is where you are rendered almost powerless because you simply cannot be in all places at all times.

Calibration empowers sales leaders to move from just being an average or a good leader to a great one. With calibration, you can rest a little easier knowing that your management team is managing each of their sales teams with consistency in quality and timing. This is often referred to as a sales management cadence.

Click Here: Get Your FREE Sales Management Cadence Builder >>

Once your organization has aligned with the attributes and activities that are important to your sales management process, a cadence helps keep everyone on-track throughout the month, quarter, year, and beyond. It sets the framework by which your sales managers are expected to spend their time in field travel, joint calling, 1-on-1s, team meetings, forecast, pipeline and deal reviews, among other activities.

And while cadence informs the quantity of these interactions, calibration informs the quality.

A good example here is the 1-on-1 meeting between a frontline manager and a rep. You could say that you expect your sales managers to 1) have a clear purpose and agenda (forecast, pipeline, deal, skill building); 2) practice active listening; 3) provide constructive feedback 4) practice guiding vs. telling; 5) close with action items.

When you know that each of your sales managers are managing their teams the same way, and to a similar standard, you’re empowered to let go of the day-to-day of these interactions and start focusing on improving them.

The key to helping your frontline sales managers hit their quotas is making them better at coaching their reps within the meeting and activities that are already on their calendar. Improving the efficacy of these interactions is the greatest lever you have as a sales leader in influencing better outcomes for your entire organization.

Calibration Empowers Frontline Sales Managers

Without a framework to manage, your sales managers will struggle to succeed.

Chances are that your sales managers are largely making it up as they go. They’ve been promoted to the position and given a ton of responsibility, but they were never provided with a framework for how to accomplish their goals. Sales organizations put a lot of investment into training their sellers but very little (if any at all) into training sales managers. As a result, sales managers simply attempt to apply the knowledge and skills that made them successful from their days as sellers. This means that you likely now have a management team largely comprised of Lone Wolves.

If you have read The Challenger Sale then you’ve heard of the “Lone Wolf”. Lone Wolves are deeply self-confident and have a natural ability to succeed on their own instincts. They break rules, are hard to manage, and do things their way or no way at all. They are the least common profile of all salespeople, but they are the second most common among top-performing salespeople.

And what do we do with top-performing salespeople? Promote them to managers!

You’ve tolerated your Lone Wolves because they perform. But are they really impacting your long-term revenue goals positively and effectively? Are your Lone Wolves effectively coaching and developing to improve the performance of their entire sales team, or are they spreading bad habits by just focusing on the ones who emulate their style the closest?

Calibration begins to drive consistency in sales management processes and enables frontline sales managers by providing them with the framework they so desperately need (whether they know it or not). It informs them of what behaviors they need to expect in their teams and how to coach individual reps to close performance gaps.

For example, to run an effective discovery call, your sales organization may agree on a few critical behaviors: 1) set the agenda; 2) deliver an insight; 3) ask discovery questions; 4) present the value proposition; 5) close for next steps.

When you provide frontline sales managers and their reps with these criteria, they have visibility into what will make them successful, what is expected of them, and what they can work on to improve performance.

Furthermore, managers know specifically what areas they need to coach and develop individual reps on to help them improve—whether that rep is a top, middle, or low performer. Rather than simply riding their star sellers to goal each quarter, calibrated assessments enable frontline sales managers to level-up everyone on their team to produce more.

Your frontline sales managers need your help. They need sales leadership, enablement, and operations to align with expectations that drive successful interactions to get at the true root of underperformance. They need a defined management cadence to bring clarity to the activities on their calendars, and they need a process that provides visibility into making those interactions effective. This is where calibrated assessment really makes a difference. Because when you can improve the behaviors of your managers, they improve the behaviors of your reps. That is the impact of a force multiplier throughout your sales organization.

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Do Your Sales Managers Need A Motivation Makeover?

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How Core Drives Can Deplete Or Increase Sales Manager Motivation

This guest post was originally published on yukaichou.com: Why Sales Manager Motivation Needs A Makeover

Previously, we explored the core drivers of motivation in the sales organization and why our traditional coin-operated, compliance-driven sales culture may finally be ripe for disruption in Why Seller Motivation Needs a Makeover.

Conventional wisdom suggests that we place more training and development emphasis on the seller. Look no further than the budget spent on training sellers vs. managers. In this article, let’s explore why the frontline sales manager is actually the key to change, their current sources of motivation, and how to disrupt the status quo to build a sustainable revenue generating machine.

Sales Managers’ Complex Task List

Most sales managers started as great sellers. Then, they are promoted into a management position where we expect them to gain a completely new skill set than the one that made them a successful seller overnight. Here are just a few of the common tasks sales managers are expected to perform on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis:

  • Field Travel or Joint Calling
  • 1on1s and Team Meetings
  • Forecast Reviews
  • Pipeline Reviews
  • Deal Reviews
  • Account Plan Reviews
  • Territory Plan Reviews
  • Win / Loss
  • Quarterly Business Reviews
  • Performance Reviews
  • Hiring and Recruiting
  • Rewards and Recognition
  • Training

The sales management hierarchy uses Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance to drive compliance and ensure these tasks are happening on schedule. Are our reps doing effective discovery? Join the sales call. Forecast needs to roll up. Better vet it. Is a key deal we’re forecasting to close qualified? Deal review time.

We expect managers to perform these tasks. But doing them well…that’s another story. Try sitting in a forecast review and you may be less confident about the forecast, but you will learn more about that particular seller’s upcoming weekend plans!

Don’t Miss Your Quota

Managers, like sellers, are on a variable comp plan. But, instead of being responsible for one quota, managers are responsible for a team quota. The average sales manager gets about 50% of his sellers to goal, but that is not going to cut it. So how do sales managers make plan? Most managers have a couple stars they can count on to overachieve and maybe they even sell a few deals themselves.

The quota system relies on Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience as managers race to capture their earnings opportunity for the time period before it evaporates. It’s no wonder busy sales managers feel justified abandoning some of the tasks we previously explored that don’t help them draw a straight line toward delivering their number this quarter. For everyone in the sales organization, the short-term pressure to hit quota can feel overwhelming. What’s a sales manager to do?

Overreliance on Black Hat Core Drives is Fatiguing

sales manager motivation burnoutCore Drives 6 and 8 are Black Hat, making us feel obsessed, anxious, and addicted. While they are very strong in motivating behavior, in the long run, they leave us feeling fatigued because we feel like we have lost control.

For the sales manager, this often means managing their team feels more like a game of Survivor than a successful career. When half of your reps are underperforming, you have an open headcount and one of your best sellers is threatening to quit, it can feel like the job never ends. It’s no wonder managers are left feeling overwhelmed and underdeveloped. As a result, the tasks we expect them to perform to help their team hit quota are either sub-optimized or abandoned entirely.

Getting More Of Your Sales Managers To Plan

The sales manager role has gotten far more complex over the years, but we are still using the same motivational drivers to try to achieve our goals. With today’s millennial-minded sales manager who is looking to be developed and not just hit a number, these forces threaten to either burn people out or churn them out of your organization entirely.

Sales and enablement leaders need a thoughtful plan to counteract these forces that drive long-term engagement and skills mastery. These are known as White Hat drivers. White Hat drivers make us feel powerful, fulfilled and satisfied. It may sound obvious, but consistently getting more managers to plan relies on getting more sellers to plan. And the only reliable way to get more sellers to plan is to develop your sales managers into coaches.

Light The Coaching Fuse

We’ve all had a coach at some point in our lives. When effort meets opportunity it feels like anything is possible. That’s what it feels like to be coached. On the flip side, coaching has its own rewards. Phil Collins said: “In learning, you will teach and in teaching, you will learn.”

Use Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling, to help your sales managers realize their higher purpose beyond just delivering their team quota. The best way to tap into their inner Tony Robbins is to coach the coach. Observing sellers in action to provide coaching is commonplace through joint calling or even field travel, but for some reason, we don’t apply the same philosophy to our managers. Help them realize their calling by sitting in a one-on-one between manager and seller. Don’t talk, just listen, and then use this observation to coach the coach. Coaching your managers to become better coaches will light the motivational fuse that reminds them why they became a sales manager in the first place!

Learn More About Yu-Kai Chou’s Octalysis Gamification Framework for Improving Behavioral Design & Team Engagement >>

 

Give Your Sales Managers A Choice

sales manager motivation coachingTo many, coaching is one of those disciplines that is way more art than science. But if you are going to democratize coaching for all your managers, you will need to demystify what the best coaches in the world do intuitively.

Use Core Drive 3: Empowerment and Creativity to not only get all your managers on the same page but also make them feel enfranchised in the process. To do so, look no further than the list of activities expected of sales managers we discussed above. I’m sure you have a point of view on what should happen during those activities. Build a list of criteria.

Now here’s the magic: Put those criteria in front of your sales managers and let them choose which criteria matter to them. What they choose may be different than what you intended but by giving them a choice, they are FAR more likely to use them to coach their teams.

Time for Your Motivation Makeover

The Black Hat core drives that motivate sales manager behavior aren’t going away anytime soon. And even the White Hat techniques discussed won’t be sustained without becoming part of a larger system that makes managers feel like coaching isn’t such a deadlift each time.

Think about what drives motivation for your sales managers. Is it time for a sales manager motivation makeover? Try integrating these White Hat techniques into a quarterly plan focused on improving one interaction within the team’s workflow. For your sales managers, the goal is to establish a system that puts sales team development on autopilot.

 

 

How To Structure Sales Manager Enablement To Crush Your 2018 Goals

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Three key insights into sales manager enablement that will help your sales organization reach (or exceed!) 2018 goals.

There is a deep-rooted problem in today’s sales organizations. Frontline managers are trapped in a vice created by the traditional approach to sales: Hit the number at all costs. The status quo has sales organizations lurching from quarter to quarter, barely keeping ahead of the game, and rarely pausing to improve. There is a mantra in leadership theory that we have to “slow down to speed up“. But this is a luxury that sales simply cannot afford in their quota-driven world. As forward-thinking organizations are just beginning to build sales manager enablement programs, the burning question is how to structure programs that sales managers will actually want to use.

This year, CommercialTribe hosted five Sales Manager Effectiveness workshops around the country. In the beginning, we weren’t at all sure how this concept would be received by the market. There wasn’t much work or research being done that focused specifically on the frontline sales manager role, and part of our intent was to see how important and relevant sales manager development is to sales organizations, and to work with some of the most progressive sales organizations in the country to understand how they are structuring solutions to the sales manager enablement issue.

Who Needs To Be Involved In Sales Manager Enablement?

sales manager enablement trust alignmentThe interest in sales manager enablement cuts across all the main stakeholders of an Enterprise sales organization. We began our outreach by focusing on the sales enablement function, thinking that these leaders are most familiar with the benefits realized by training and development. We quickly realized how important the topic is to sales operations and leadership as well. Each function has a slightly different stake in it, but all recognize the acute need for developing better sales managers.

Sales Enablement

Sales manager enablement is much bigger than training—it’s the next generation of enablement. Creating buy-in and measuring the impact of initiatives is a perennial issue for sales enablement. Sales manager development helps enablement create a bridge between their central function and the field. It is a catalyst for leader-first enablement, where sales managers become force multipliers by enabling their teams in the field through coaching.

Sales Operations

Sales operations leaders care about sales manager enablement because they recognize that the data they need is only as good as the people entering it. This data entry, of course, largely falls on the shoulders of frontline managers and reps in the field. They recognize that a well-developed, highly professional sales manager has a greater appreciation for the importance of data-driven management. Further, they need sales managers to consistently and effectively coach their reps on how to enter data correctly in order to maintain (or, in many cases, create) data integrity.

Sales Leadership

Forward-thinking sales leaders want to create a sustained revenue generating machine. This goal is easier said than done, and there are many parts to building such a machine. But sales leaders we talked with quickly recognized how improving the effectiveness of their sales management team multiplied the impact of improved rep performance and productivity. The ability to develop their entire team—to “shift the middle”—is central to their ability to build and sustain their revenue engine.

The purpose of the Sales Manager Effectiveness Workshops was to show these stakeholders how to align their needs to create a successful sales manager enablement program in their own organizations. Three key insights to making sales manager enablement succeed in your organization came out of these workshops: trust and alignment in creating a sales manager enablement program are critical, sales manager enablement cannot solely be solved centrally, and teams must focus on developing specific interactions—in workflow—rather than training on skills. Let’s take a look at each of these insights in greater detail.

1. Trust & Alignment Are Critical For Sales Manager Enablement

The fact that you need to be able to observe, assess, and coach to develop a team is basic. But what you really need to do this effectively is trust. What I mean by trust, in this context, is not about trust in individual people or managers (though that is important, too). It’s that everyone in the organization trusts the criteria that they are being evaluated against, and how that criterion manifests in their coaching.

Unfortunately, this trust is largely missing from most sales organizations today. The reason it is missing is that it’s extremely difficult to get all the stakeholder groups in a sales organization aligned on the skills that they believe drive results. When you think about the three main personas profiled above and what their stakes in sales manager enablement are, getting each of these functions, as well as all the individual people within them, to agree is no easy task. There are very few organizations that have aligned on key skills to assess for their sellers and even fewer that have accomplished this for their frontline sales managers.

The exciting part about this is that sales organizations are truly beginning to understand the importance of doing this and they are working on tackling this issue of trust by aligning around sales assessments. But it’s one thing to talk about it, another thing to actually put it down on paper, and a completely different world to put it into practice in a sales manager enablement process by measuring the effectiveness of coaching and development.

So, how do you create trust in your organization around evaluating the right skills and then coaching to develop them? The key to accomplishing trust is a step in the process of building a sales manager enablement program we call Calibration. In this context, calibration is code for alignment. It’s how you create alignment in all layers of the organization, including enablement, ops, and sales leadership, as well as sales managers and reps who all need to trust in the evaluation criteria and the coaching process.

If your organization—in particular, your sales managers—are not aligned with the assessment criteria and how to coach, the program becomes a mess. People don’t know what to expect, they have different experiences. And when there is no consistency in how people are being coached and evaluated, there is no way to pull real insights out of the data to enable effective, targeted coaching at scale. In this environment, there is no way to get coaching and development to stick.

2. Sales Manager Enablement Must Happen Within The Team’s Workflow

sales manager enablement in-workflowSales enablement creates great training and practice programs using their LMS and/or learning paths that provide the sales team with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the field. The problem with this in sales manager enablement is a time management issue. Frontline sales managers will do anything to get their team to hit the quota, but they are starved for time in their daily lives to “slow down to speed up”.

In reality, sales managers have very little time, and often less desire, to participate in enablement-lead learning and development. They need coaching and development that is timely, highly relevant, and succinct. They need development that happens within their daily workflow.

What do I mean by this? Sales managers and their reps already have scheduled meetings—many of which happen on a regular cadence (hopefully). The most effective sales manager enablement initiatives will work within these meetings to evaluate interactions and provide relevant, timely feedback on how the manager, seller, or both can improve. Sales manager enablement that happens within workflow helps to create trust in the process, improves engagement, and significantly increases the performance of sales teams.

3. Focus Sales Manager Enablement On Developing An Interaction, Rather Than On Skills

This insight is so beautiful in its simplicity that it’s difficult to think that very few organizations are doing this today. Most sales training programs focus on skills development. They create a skills-based framework and try to train the field to develop all of these skills to apply to their interactions. At first, this makes sense. After all, if a manager or rep develops active listening skills, for example, she can apply that skill to each of her interactions whether it’s a 1-on-1 meeting or a discovery call or a negotiation.

The critical reality is that this type of training is simply too much information for a global sales organization to internalize and apply in the real-world with any great impact. We know from research that only about 30% of training content is retained by participants. When they go out into the world they end up simply reverting to old habits, putting hundreds of thousands of training investment to waste.

Instead, focus your sales manager enablement program on improving specific, real-world interactions they have in their daily lives. For sales manager development, consider focusing on 1-on-1, pipeline review, deal review, or forecast meetings. For sales reps, this may include interactions such as the discovery call, the demo, or negotiation call.

The message is clear: sales organizations need to focus on sales manager enablement by providing them with the training, tools, and coaching they need to coach and develop their reps. In so doing, we create force multipliers within the sales organization who can help create agile, sustained revenue-generating sales teams now and in the long-term.

 

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4 Sales Leader Resolutions That Will Fail (And The One That Won’t)

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Why Do Sales Leaders Make Resolutions That Are Bound To Fail?

How did 2017 end for you? Did your team smash their goal, barely squeak by, or fall apart? As a sales leader, your success is based entirely on your team’s performance. So, no matter what happened in the past year, I’m willing to bet that you’re making some resolutions to be a better sales leader—to improve your team’s performance.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”

If you want improved performance (and what sales leader doesn’t?) you need to change something. But what will you resolve to change this year? What can you resolve to change this year that will have an impact?

sales leader resolutions goalsChange is hard. The most common New Year’s Resolutions fall into three main buckets: being healthier, self-improvement, and better financial management—all worthy desires we can all attest to wanting. But research (and common knowledge) says that 88% of us fail to achieve our goals, illustrating that the desire to change alone is not sufficient to actually achieving goals. What do the 12% do that the rest of us don’t? Read on.

For sales leaders, change is an even more daunting task. Every year (and quarter, and sometimes even month) is Groundhog Day. Remember Bill Murray? Wake up and go knock down the number all over again…

For many sales leaders, this pressure gets handed down to the team and can make it feel like nothing else that matters. Hit the number. Hit the number… But while the number will be how you are measured, the process you follow to get to it is what you can improve.

So, did you resolve to be better this year? In the spirit of new beginnings, here are four resolutions I know you’ll have trouble keeping, and one that you actually can.

Sales Leader Resolution Bound for Failure #1

I will spend more time developing my team.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an absolute advocate for developing sales teams. It’s what I’m passionate about. But the pitfall with this common sales leader resolution is that, without the proper structure in place, you will eventually let sales team development slip as daily pressures and competition for your time intensifies.

Steve Jobs said: “The most precious resource we have is time.” We often don’t think about it that way, but time is scarce. To do something is to take away something else. What are you going to take away in order to spend more time developing your team? What will your managers and reps have to give up?

Here’s a list of stuff the average sales team does on a routine basis: Sales Calls, Field Travel, Forecast Reviews, Pipeline Reviews, Deal Reviews, Territory Reviews, 1-on-1s, Team Meetings. Then there are the fire drills that constantly derail everything.

Keeping all the trains running on time in and of itself is a significant undertaking. Finding more time outside of these settings to develop your team is not likely to be sustainable. Eventually, your focus will flounder and the time you put aside for development will revert back to old habits.

Sales Leader Resolution Bound for Failure #2

I will be a better coach.

Coaching is a skill that can be learned. Getting better, like any skill, requires repetition. You’ve probably read a lot about the multiplicative impact of coaching, so you’re ready to dig in. But how will you be better?

First off, you’ll need to carve out the time and space for coaching in an already chaotic schedule (see #1 above). You’ll need to be able to identify not just how to coach your team but, more importantly, what to coach them on. Your high-performing managers will need to develop different skills than those that are struggling with high turnover and under-performance. Then you’ll need a feedback mechanism to help you understand if you’re making progress toward becoming a better coach.

Better sales coaching is a critical need in today’s business, and working to become better is certainly a worthy goal; however, you’re likely to abandon it when it feels hard and the impact is unclear.

Sales Leader Resolution Bound for Failure #3

I will build a great team culture.

sales leader resolutions team cultureThere’s a famous Peter Drucker quote that says: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You may be feeling like the key to success is a better team environment. There’s nothing more fun than being part of a team that loves coming to work each day. But cultures are lived, not made. Nor are they easy to measure and identify. How will you do it?

For many leaders, more time as a team outside of work is an answer, including team building events or everyone’s favorite boondoggle. These are time-tested tactics that can have an impact but may not necessarily change how your team performs on the job.

Culture means different things to different people, and building a great culture is certainly a worthy sales leader resolution. But it’s bound for failure if it simply revolves around happy hours and forced “team building” interactions.If you want to build a great culture, think about how your team interacts with each other every day. Think about what your people value, what their professional goals are and how they are empowered to work toward those goals.

Sales Leader Resolutions Bound For Failure #4

I will mint more stars.

Every sales leader has their stars. And every sales leader wants more of them. On the best sales teams, star managers and sellers push everyone else to be better. On the worst, the team’s performance is overwhelmingly reliant on them. So how do you get more of them?

There is a severe shortage of sales talent out there, so you can either hire them or you can make them. The problem with hiring them is that they are tough (and expensive) to find, and they often come with baggage. Making them is far better, particularly for growing sales teams,, but it’s not like flipping a switch—developing stars takes time.

If you want to mint more stars, put a plan in place today but don’t expect anything to come to fruition overnight.

What Do These 4 Sales Leader Resolutions Have in Common?

Time.

None of these sales leader resolutions are bad goals to have. But remember we’re talking about resolutions here. And the #1 reason resolutions fail is because YOU’RE TREATING A MARATHON LIKE A SPRINT.

In the sales world, time is currency and managing it leads to long-term success. Small changes are more likely to be achieved because they aren’t so intimidating and they can happen within your sales team’s existing workflow. The last thing you want to do is shoot for something big, only to find out you don’t have a realistic plan to attain it.

So, what is the one sales leader resolution you can actually keep?

The One Resolution You Will Actually Keep

I will make my team better at one activity they are already doing.

Now hear me out. You can do this. There’s definitely something that’s gnawing at you coming into the new year. Has your team ever missed a forecast? Ever feel like you’re handing down a goal and praying the team can build enough pipeline to hit it? Have you ever joined a sales call, only to cringe at what you hear?

Whatever it might be that’s on your mind, your team can get better at it. Pick the one activity you want to improve and then go to work. Where do your people already do that one activity? Is it the forecast meeting or opportunity review? Perhaps the discovery call or demo? The most critical activities for your sales team to improve are already on everyone’s calendar every day, week, and month. Pick the event and start observing to understand what’s actually happening.
What you’re probably going to find is there aren’t clear expectations, leaving it up to each individual’s interpretation of what “best practice” looks like. Or maybe you’ve set those expectations but your team struggles to apply them, but now you know why. Either way, you’ve got a coaching path to solving the problem.

One final piece of advice and this is important. When you start showing up to meetings and calls that you never used to before, people are going to think its about performance. Nothing puts people more on edge than feeling as if they’re being evaluated and that evaluation will be used against them in a performance related discussion.

You can help alleviate this natural anxiety by communicating your positive intent. Your mantra is to pick everyone up, not bring them down. If you set it up right, you just might start to chip away at some of the other failed resolutions we explored earlier.

We will probably never stop making resolutions. It’s in our optimistic human nature to continually strive to be better. But why go to all the trouble of trying to change if you can’t actually follow through? Shrink the size of the change and create a clear plan to execute. Focus on making it as easy as possible for you and your team. If you have to think too hard or do too much, you’re off track.

Do you want to build a team that is capable of taking on bigger goals every quarter?
Do you want a great culture that attracts and retains the best talent?
Are you tired of taking your team out of the field for training with questionable impact?
Do you feel like you can’t add any more non-selling work to your team’s plate?
Do you want a SUSTAINABLE REVENUE MACHINE?

 

sales leader resolutions guide cta

7 Reasons Your Deal Review is a Complete Waste of Time (and How to Fix It)

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Formalize your deal review in 7 simple steps.

As David Brock notes in his book, Sales Manager Survival Guide, sales managers spend their lives in reviews. So it might come as a shock that it’s likely that the majority of the time you spend in reviews is wasted. The core reason is that most sales managers never learned why you do reviews and what you are supposed to accomplish in them in the first place. You are likely simply copying reviews that you’ve experienced in the past.

Let’s focus specifically on your deal review and look at the seven reasons it is likely a complete waste of your time, and how to fix it.

1. You Are Mixing Reviews

In his book, Brock calls it “comparing apples to oranges.” All too often, sales managers allow forecast and pipeline reviews to degenerate into an ad hoc deal review. The result is that neither you nor your sales team will acquire the relevant information they need for either.

Another common mistake sales managers make is to do the deal review as a one-on-one. When deal reviews are done as a team, everyone on the team benefits from learning from their peers’ deals. A sharing of tribal knowledge naturally occurs and reps have the opportunity to apply that knowledge to their own deals.

How To Fix It

The most simple way to fix this issue is to put a formal review process in place and follow it closely. Different reviews have different objectives, so they should be separated to ensure you and your team are efficiently managing the pipeline.

Get Your FREE Guides To Formalize Your Review Processes >>

2. Neither you nor your reps have prepared for the deal review

You are extremely busy. Hopping from meeting to meeting, phone call to phone call is exhausting. How are you ever supposed to have time to actually prepare for each meeting when you barely have time to grab another cup of coffee to keep you going.

But a little bit of preparation goes a long way in giving you back your time. There is a return on time invested when you learn how to manage an efficient deal review, rather than winging it.

You should also not tolerate a lack of preparation from your reps. Both you and your reps need to do a little bit of pre-work in advance of a deal review to ensure the meeting runs as efficiently as possible.

How To Fix It

First, place ownership of the deal review into the hands of your sellers. It takes a bit of sales team development to accomplish this, but as reps get used to the new dynamic, you will find that they are arriving to deal reviews much better prepared.

Schedule just 5 – 10 minutes prior to each deal review on your calendar for prep time, and instruct your reps to do the same. Treat this time as sacred as any other meeting you attend and use it to review the details of the deal. This means understanding the background, pain points, solutions, and risks of the deal based on the information already available.

Since you have created a list of set questions (from #1 above), your sales rep should be using this time to prepare their answers to these questions.

3. Your deal review is one-sided

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Sam, an average-performing rep on your team, calls your office line during the scheduled time for his weekly deal review with you. He is working on a fairly important deal that has the potential to bring in $82,000 upon closing, and more in renewals and upsell potential. The problem they are looking to solve has clear synergies with your solution and, up until about two weeks ago, they were moving through the pipeline smoothly.

Sam starts the conversation by talking about the company, where they are located, when they came in, what their issues are, what solutions have been presented to them, what conversations have happened, etc, etc. He continues on and on as you listen to background and historical information that you’ve heard before. You are also looking at the majority of this information as you scan the account record in Salesforce while Sam continues to talk.

“…and now they’ve basically gone quiet. I haven’t heard from them for almost two weeks.” Sam ends his spiel. You happen to glance at the clock on your screen and you’re 15 minutes into a 30-minute meeting and you’ve barely said two words.

One-sided reviews can go either way—either you are doing all the talking or your rep is. As in this scenario, sellers can have a tendency to tell stories and simply do a “data dump”, rather than provide facts and data that are relevant and concise.

On the other hand, when the manager is the one doing all the talking, they are not providing their reps with career development coaching that will help both the rep and the manager in the long term. Managers tend to fall into the habit of telling and instructing, rather than asking and listening.

Tweet this: When your deal review is one-sided, neither side gets the full story or the opportunity to understand. You think you know all the right answers, even though it is your rep who is closest to the deal. And your rep leaves the meeting without a deeper understanding of how to win a deal on their own, without needing to involve management as much.

How To Fix It

Your deal review should be a conversation, where both parties are contributing. To become a good sales manager, work on developing your coaching methodology within your routine interactions with your team, such as during a deal review.

Ask coaching questions that not only improve your understanding of the deal but will also get your rep thinking about the deal themselves and understand the “why” behind your recommendations and outcomes. Why, what, and how questions are typically how good coaching questions begin.

4. No action items come out of the deal review

I have observed many deal reviews that have simply ended without an action item. Time’s up (or overdue) and the two parties simply part, neither of them much better off than they were 30 or 40 minutes ago.

One of the important objectives of a deal review is to identify specific action items that will help your rep win the deal. If you do not establish clear action items with your reps to accomplish this before your next meeting, you have completely wasted time.

How To Fix It

Tweet this: A sales manager who is also a great coach will get buy-in on action items from their reps. This means asking specific “how” questions that will help your reps determine what they need to do to ensure the win themselves.

Help your rep build a list of action items that they will commit to completing and the timelines associated with each. Document the action items so that you can track and reconcile that they were acted on later.

5. Action items are not reconciled from week to week

Those managers who do set action items during the deal review often do not reconcile them from week to week. There is little point in setting action items if you are not going to follow up on them to make sure they were completed and find out what the result was.

This behavior leads to a lack of accountability and responsibility from your reps.

How To Fix It

Incorporate about 5 minutes for action item reconciliation in your weekly deal review agenda. During this part of the deal review, refer to the action items list you created with your rep the week before and quickly go through each, asking what the result of the action was.

6. You are too focused on late-stage deals

A big part of your job is to be hyper-focused on the short-term results of your sales team. The problem is that the relentless pursuit of short-term objectives means that you tend to be so focused on the late-stage opportunities in your team’s pipeline that you all but ignore the top of the sales funnel.

Deal reviews should include qualified opportunities that are in the earlier stages of your sales process as well. After all, these are the deals that are going to pay dividends during your next week, month, or quarter.

How To Fix It

The fix here is pretty simple: do deal reviews on early stage deals! Creating a strategy for winning a deal early on and executing it will only help reach your goals.

7. You are trying to make your deal review “one size fits all”

Not all deal reviews should be the same. Trying to make them one size fits all will simply make them irrelevant and waste valuable time.

If you manage a team that has different roles or focuses on different geographic areas, products, industry targets, etc. your deal review has to be customized to those variables. Often, the difference isn’t dramatic, but you can’t expect deals to all play out the same way.

How To Fix It

Think about the different segments and/or roles of the people on your team—maybe make a list to map them out. Next, think about the goals and objectives that each of these segments on your team has, and the differences in the deals that they work on.

Come up with a clear structure for each of the different areas on your team that you manage. This may include a specific agenda, objective, list of questions, and coaching questions for each. Planning these out will help you run a deal review with each more effectively and help improve your deal reviews on an ongoing basis.

The deal review is a critical activity for sales managers, so it’s astonishing how much of a waste of time so many of them really are. While we looked specifically at deal reviews in this post, the truth is that these mistakes and fixes can be applied to all of the reviews scheduled on your calendar.

Tweet this: Take the time to improve your reviews, formalize your management processes, and develop your sales team so that you can run a more effective, more efficient sales organization.

Deal-Review-Sales-Manager-Development-eBook

How to Put Defined Sales Processes in Place and Even Have Your Salespeople Love You For It

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It’s a fact: well-defined sales processes lead to more productive sales performance. In a study conducted by CSO Insights, this fact was validated—companies with defined sales processes won 53% of their forecasted deals vs. 43% with ad hoc processes. This essentially means that a defined sales process yields 23% more output from sales. The numbers for % reps making quota, and % companies making plan also tell a similar story (see graph below).

CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Report

2011 Sales Performance Optimization Report, CSO Insights, www.csoinsights.com

From nearly every vantage point, the research confirms that better sales processes equal better sales performance. Reason to say yes to formalizing your sales processes? We think so!

Cracking the Sales Management Code

The information above was taken directly from Cracking the Sales Management Code, by Jason Jordan. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you pick it up—it’s a favorite in our office. The basic takeaway is that you can’t manage organizational outcomes—quota attainment, revenue—which is traditionally where a lot of sales organizations focus.

Instead, your focus— especially if you’re a sales manager—should be on proactively managing reps’ activities by establishing deliberate, standardized meetings/activities with formal agendas, inputs, and outputs. Managed well, improvements in these activities will impact measurable objectives and ultimately improve outcomes.

Putting an actionable plan in place

I want to highlight how we were able to bring a formal, defined process to a typical sales meeting: The Forecast Review. Often, the urgency of the forecast beats the importance of rep development.  But it’s a false dilemma.  There are ways to improve both at the same time.

We’ve spent the last six months listening to hundreds of manager-seller interactions— forecasts, 1-on-1s, opportunity reviews, account management meetings, and pre-call planning sessions.  The bad news is that the general quality of these meetings are substandard.  The good news is that with some simple modifications they can be improved dramatically — leading to accurate forecasts, improved quota attainment, empowered salespeople, and ultimately improved sales performance.

If your forecast review meeting is not on a formal cadence with a formal approach and a formal agenda then you’re a hack…well, not really.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone and it’s easy to fix. Here are six adjustments that will rock your forecast review meetings:

  1. Standardize the agenda, purpose and approach
  2. Model good and bad meetings
  3. Ask versus tell
  4. Make requests, promises and agreements
  5. Transfer meeting ownership to the salesperson
  6. Inspect what you expect

Download this guide for more detail on how to implement this proven structure and customize for your environment.  And if you’d like to continue this effort to improve other processes, you can download the entire set of Sales Manager Guides including:

  • Retain and Grow Key Accounts
  • Build and Execute a Territory Action Plan
  • Qualify and Execute Multi-Stage Sales Cycles
  • Produce an Accurate and Reliable Forecast

I hope you find these guides helpful in putting more formalized sales activities in your organization. We’re sure that you will see improvements in your team’s sales performance as a result of implementing a formal approach, cadence, and agenda. And since your reps will ultimately see an improvement in their performance, I’m pretty sure they’ll love you for it.

Want To Know What Makes A Good Sales Manager? Ask Google

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Google observed and analyzed 10,000 manager interactions and found out what makes a good sales manager.

Google is the gold standard when it comes to using data-driven insights to make decisions. Constantly on the lookout for ways to optimize their business based on data, Google executives wanted to find out if there was a way that they could effectively engineer the perfect manager.

Google, like many companies, traditionally hired and promoted based on technical talent. But what did their research show? Of the top eight characteristics that make a good manager, technical expertise comes in last. What mattered more?

    1. Be a good coach
    2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
    3. Express interest in employee’s success and well-being
    4. Be productive and results-oriented
    5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
    6. Help your employees with career development
    7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
    8. Have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team

Great Coaching Skills Make a Good Sales Manager

What really struck me about this is that the number one, most important skill that makes a good sales manager is to be a good coach. This is precisely the challenge that we’ve been solving for our clients here at CommericalTribe. We all know from experience that it’s not enough to just send your salespeople to training and then throw them at a list of prospects and hope for the best. Sales teams benefit most when someone takes the time to observe what they do, assess their performance, and then provide constructive feedback on what they did well and where there are opportunities for improvement.

In short, sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. Tweet: Sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. https://ctt.ec/Nh7ZU+ #SalesManagerDevelopment #SalesGoals

Our research shows that very few sales managers are very good at this. Why? Many companies don’t invest more than cursory training for our sales managers to develop their management and coaching skills. Without this investment in the development of frontline sales managers, your sales team is far less likely to hit their goals.

How often do you discuss how to be an effective sales coach with your managers? And how well do they understand how being a good coach fits into their daily interactions?

What Does it Take to Be A Good Sales Coach?What makes a good sales manager? Nature vs. Nurture | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement Solution

Being a good coach is all about getting people to perform at their best.

John Wooden, one of the most respected coaches in sports history who led the UCLA basketball team to win ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, said: “In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices.”

Great coaches don’t focus on the personal glory of the game and the fame of the win. They measure their own success by how much their team is able to achieve. This mindset doesn’t always come naturally to highly successful sales reps that have been promoted into management.

Sales leaders who want sales managers who are great coaches can start by specifically looking for characteristics that create good coaches in the recruiting process. When IBM goes into colleges to recruit, they look at the students with undergraduate degrees in areas such as psychology, counseling, and teaching. They find the ones that had even just a small amount of business acumen and point them toward career tracks in sales management.

IBM has been doing this for a long time, because they understood early on that good sales managers are good coaches. And good coaches guide people. Students who were interested in these types of degrees, IBM discovered, were usually inherently interested in guiding people and already exhibited the coaching characteristics that make a good sales manager.

Making A Good Sales Manager: Is It Nature Or Nurture?

What makes a good sales manager? Sales Team Success | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement SolutionTalent is something that people are born with, skill is something that is earned. Tweet: Talent is something that people are born with, skill is earned. https://ctt.ec/9adMR+ #SalesSkills #SalesManagerDevelopment

Some people are born with the characteristics that can make a great coach. But many, many others need to develop it.

Jack Welch, the celebrated growth CEO of GE, was not always the great leader we think of today. Early on in his career at GE, he was described in a memo from the head of HR as “arrogant, couldn’t take criticism, and depended too much on his talent instead of hard work and his knowledgeable staff” (Mindset, pg. 127). To his credit, Welch had the good sense to recognize this as a growth opportunity and worked tirelessly throughout his career to become a better coach and the leader we know and recognize today.

Developing great coaching skills requires commitment, work, and practice. If you want to develop your sales managers into coaches, you must first take the time to coach them and invest in tools to help them scale their coaching across their entire team.

You don’t need to have a team of statisticians on staff to understand what makes a good sales manager for your organization. You and your management team do; however, need to be able to observe and assess sales manager and seller interactions, to provide coaching. This observe, assess, and coach methodology is how sales teams continually improve in becoming better managers and closing more deals.

Download the Free Sales Manager Guide and Learn What Makes a Good Sales Manager | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement Solution