The Proven Secret to Empower Better Sales Managers


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.

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


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. #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. #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

25% of Your Qualified Opportunities are Wasted by Poor Sales Calls


Activate Your Sales Managers To Start Converting More Qualified Opportunities Into Revenue.

Tweet this: Qualified opportunities are the lifeblood of your company’s existence.

The dirty secret of most sales organizations is that many qualified opportunities are wasted by sales organizations that are relying on ad hoc management processes. Sales leaders in these organizations are living on a hope and a prayer that their team can close enough deals to keep business leadership from giving them the boot.

Increase Sales Productivity up to 23%

Research by CSO Insights has shown that by managing your team to a process can improve their productivity by a whopping 23%. Developing your front line managers to activate them as growth coaches for sales reps is key to executing this process management.

The dirty secret of most sales organizations is that many qualified opportunities are wasted by sales organizations that are relying on ad hoc management processes.

Start With Your Sales Process

It sounds obvious, but it’s striking how many sales managers don’t do the basics. The first step is to define your sales process, and then the hard part: make sure you and your managers are managing to it.

I’m mostly indifferent to what sales process and tools you use—each company and sales organization need to use what works best for them. I am not; however, indifferent to whether or not you use a sales process at all. Defining a sales process, or methodology, is critical to the success of your sales team’s ability to maximize pipeline opportunities. Without one, your organization will flounder and miss goals.

Without a management plan, your front line managers don’t have the tools they need to help their teams guide qualified opportunities through the sales pipeline to close.

While most companies and sales leaders know this by now, many fail to take the next step and formalize a management plan around their sales process. Without a management plan, your front line managers don’t have the tools they need to help their teams guide qualified opportunities through the sales pipeline to close.

Your Reps are Bumbling 25% of Their Qualified Opportunities
Tweet: Your Reps are Bumbling at least 25% of Their Qualified Opportunities

All sales processes experience the most acute loss of qualified opportunities at the top the funnel. Conversion rates are much higher in the latter stages of the sales funnel. So, ask yourself, what would a 5% improvement in your conversion rate at the top of your funnel mean for your overall result? It would be pretty impactful, wouldn’t it?

In our experience observing and assessing thousands of sales calls for our clients, we’ve found that at least 25% of sales reps’ interactions with prospects and clients are what we would score as red. That means that even the reps that you have invested heavily in training for are not properly applying the characteristics of what makes a successful call.

That’s 125 opportunities every week that you would have been better off not calling at all.

If you have 100 reps on your sales team and each of them are doing just one discovery call per day, that means your team is collectively throwing away 25 qualified opportunities every day. That’s 125 opportunities every week that you would have been better off not calling at all.

And these calls are going to continue every day, week in and week out, month after month. Until you find yourself at the end of the quarter trying to shake down your managers to eek out those last few deals to meet your objective before the clock stops. And then you have to start all over again in the new quarter.

Said differently, you would be better off if 25% of your sales reps just stayed home and didn’t make a single call. Because they are literally just throwing away qualified opportunities before that opportunity has a chance to really learn about the value of your solution due to ineffective discovery calls. If we can simply improve your discovery call conversion rate by 5%, and maintain your lower pipeline conversions, the revenue impact will be impossible to ignore! So, how can you do that?

Click Here To Download Our Free Opportunity Managment Guide >>

Activate Your Sales Managers to Drive Qualified Opportunity Conversion

stop wasting qualified opportunities CT graphicYour front line sales managers are the key to impacting this target.

For decades, companies have focused on skills training for business development and sales reps to improve sales team performance. We like to send them off to sales training where they’ll learn the proper skills they need to develop their individual territories and close deals. Investing in our market-facing reps to teach them better sales skills, conventional wisdom says, will impact revenue attainment from the bottom up.

This conventional wisdom has ignored the sales manager’s role in coaching and developing desired behaviors in sales reps over the long-term to ensure they are applying the skills they’ve been taught.

Your front line manager is so key to the success of your sales organization, and yet they’re simply thrown into the deep end without receiving guidance on how to manage their team.

How much training and development have your sales managers received? How often do you take the time to coach and develop your management team?

Further, do they have the tools that allow them to observe their sales reps’ behavior during the discovery call? Do they have the means and mechanisms to consistently assess their reps when they do observe them? And do they have the skills and the tools they need to become coaches that can develop and grow a high-performing sales team?

Your front line sales managers’ job is untenable. They have been recently promoted from account executive to management. They have had little or no formal training and suddenly find themselves managing 11 direct reports. This team likely includes two open head counts, three new hires, one low-performer, three mid-performers, and two high-performers—one of whom is threatening to quit. They have to report their 90-day forecast. They have pricing, product, messaging, Salesforce, their managers… The list goes on.

Your front line manager is so key to the success of your sales organization, and yet they’re simply thrown into the deep end without receiving guidance on how to manage their team.

If you want to narrow the performance variance you’re seeing in your qualified opportunities conversions, you will have the most success in doing so by activating your front line managers as coaches and multipliers. And you will want to get them to first focus on coaching and developing their under and mid-level performers.

Improve Under-Performing Sales Rep Behaviors

You know as well as I do that no two sales reps are created equal. The performance variance is fairly easy to calculate, yet difficult to narrow. But if you’re looking at improving conversion rates at the top of your funnel, from discovery call to proposal, for example, under-performing reps are going to be the lowest hanging fruit.

This is because under and mid-performing sales reps are the most likely to be wasting qualified opportunities at the top of your funnel. Your high-performing reps are already moving at least close to an optimized number of leads through this stage, so the improvement increment there will be minimal.

Activating your front line managers to improve under performers does not need to be complicated or time-consuming.

Activating your front line managers to improve underperformers does not need to be complicated or time-consuming. Once they know how to do it—and have the formal tools and/or processes in place to enable them—much can be accomplished within their normal, everyday workflow. They are likely already getting face-time with their reps on a daily, or at least weekly, basis. They simply need to add an observational element to see what their lower-performing sales reps are doing versus high-performers, and then include feedback and coaching during those scheduled interactions.

Let’s take another look at the discovery call. Your high performers are likely exhibiting behaviors that we would rate as good or excellent in most, if not all, of these characteristics of an effective discovery call.

  1. Start with an introduction and set a clear agenda.
  2. Share a compelling, provocative, and insight-led company story
  3. Identify a key issue or pain point personalized for the person on the other line
  4. Provide a relevant solution to the issue or pain.
  5. Qualify and close for next steps

Your low performers, on the other hand, either lack the knowledge that these are the key steps to converting their qualified opportunities or they lack the ability to apply this knowledge.

In either case, their behaviors need to be developed and coached through consistent, committed observation, assessment, and coaching to move them up to higher levels of performance. Your front line managers can effectively do this if they have a formal management plan, and the training and tools to execute it, they need to be successful.

Is your sales team simply throwing away hundreds of qualified leads every month? You have the power stop the waste by defining your sales process and formalizing how your sales managers are expected to manage to it. Your front line sales managers are the catalyst to moving your under-performing reps to improve their behaviors and conversions at the top of the pipeline, where the majority of your qualified opportunities are churning. If you can train and develop them into effective coaches, their impact will be multiplied throughout the sales organization to improve goal attainment.



Why You Need A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program


Develop your sales manager effectiveness program to improve efficiency and increase revenue.

You have a lot on your plate when you think about your enablement priorities for this year. Sales enablement teams are being tasked with a broad range of services and responsibilities, yet continue to have to negotiate for the resources they need to accomplish key priorities.

Most enablement teams continue to focus their efforts to improve sales efficiency, increase revenue, and improve forecasting on training and developing their sellers. But what if I were to tell you there was a better, more cost-effective, and more efficient way? I’m talking about establishing a formal sales manager effectiveness program.

Why You Need A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

sales manager effectiveness program-collaborationA strong management team provides the foundation for improving your sales team’s win rate, engagement, and retention. Sales managers who have been trained to effectively coach and develop their reps, as well as manage their productivity, are most effective at attaining revenue goals, improving sales team productivity, and retaining talented, driven salespeople.

The profitability implications for your organization should not be overlooked nor underestimated. And yet, few enablement organizations currently offer any training for sales managers at all. How could this be!?

Learn How To Establish Your Sales Manager Effectiveness Program with On-Demand Training Video & Downloadable Guides >>

How To Create A Sales Manager Effectiveness Program

I believe the core of the answer to this question is that it is a huge undertaking for enablement teams that are already overwhelmed and understaffed. The underlying reasons for this is two-fold. First, there is a lack of clarity around how to create and implement a successful sales manager effectiveness program. Second, there is a lack of commitment to training and developing sales managers.

Sales and enablement teams need to be able to commit and agree to long-term development disciplines and goals to make the program successful. This commitment requires a desire to improve, a dedication to a learning & development culture, and the ability to build collaborative relationships between the enablement and sales functions. Unfortunately, I can not help you with this reason for not developing a sales manager effectiveness program. It’s akin to helping an addict kick their habit—you can’t help them until they are willing to help themselves.

But I can help you with the first reason. Since I know that implementing a formal sales manager effectiveness program can result in a huge win for your sales enablement team, not to mention have a significant financial impact on the overall performance of your company.

That is why I want to show you how to do it. Register now to watch our How To Establish a Sales Manager Effectiveness Program recording, presented as part of BrightTalk’s Sales Training & Leadership Summit. During this training session, I provide the roadmap to building your own successful sales manager effectiveness program.

Three Revelations on the Journey to Sales Manager Effectiveness

Do you believe that the effectiveness of your front-line sales managers is the key to taking your sales team’s performance to the next level? More and more, companies are coming to this conclusion. I’m not going to bore you with the data from the recent CSO Insights report: Sales Managers Overwhelmed and Underwhelmed (which you should go read). It makes intuitive sense. The “force multiplier” effect is a common way you will hear it described. We can invest in developing the seller or we can develop the manager who is ultimately responsible for developing their 6-8 sellers, and without whom any investment in the seller gets shall we say…leaky. When we realize that value from our investment in the seller is leaking out if not reinforced by the manager, we also realize that that force multiplication can work positively…or negatively.

The economics for developing the sales manager are compelling and if we do nothing, things may actually get worse. Sounds like a problem worth solving!

Now where to begin? That was the question we tackled with a room of Bay Area sales enablement leaders at a Manager Effectiveness Workshop this month. Our three revelations from the event may surprise you.

1. Sales Manager Effectiveness is a Journey

If you have been looking at this problem in your organization then you know it is not one that is easily solved. Unlike enabling the seller from leading the sales call to managing a sales cycle, developing the manager is much less straightforward. Why? Because the only thing the manager actually manages is seller behavior. In other words, it’s a people challenge and people challenges are messy.

One of the ways the journey is best described is turning managers into “sales coaches”. If you think this is easy, then you haven’t spent enough time in sales organizations. Keeping the proverbial train on the tracks is a full-time job. As I’ve blogged about previously, Seller Motivation Needs a Makeover but there are very deep-seated forces preventing that makeover from happening in short order.

In summary, your company will make a commitment to Manager Effectiveness not because a switch can be flipped, but because the payoff is real. Like any journey, there will be bumps along the way, but it is that commitment and subsequent planning that will sustain you to your destination.

2. Understand the Manager Mindset vs. Coaching Mindset

One key question you will need to answer if you are to reach your destination is what does success actually look like? Well for one, you will have become one of the most progressive sales organizations on the planet with the ability to reduce time to ramp for new hires and products, shift your performance distribution curve to the right, and grow and retain top sales talent. That’s what senior leadership cares about. But what does it actually look like?

Let me aim to answer that question by describing what it doesn’t look like.

One organization on this journey set out to survey their sellers and front-line managers on the subject of sales coaching. The question was simple. How much coaching are you receiving (for sellers) and giving (for managers) each month? What do you think the results were?

If you guessed that there was a massive disconnect between the amount of coaching managers thought they were providing versus the amount of coaching sellers believed they were getting, you’d be correct!

How could this be?

Any coaching sellers were receiving was unstructured, in the heat of the moment, and as a result was not interpreted as coaching. Given the chaotic nature of being a sales manager, stopping to be deliberate about having a coaching interaction was not on the priority list.

The hallmark of a Manager Effectiveness Program is moving from ad-hoc to formal sales manager to seller interactions and layering focused coaching within those interactions. With these ingredients, both parties show up prepared, there is a clear agenda, and the seller gets better.

CSO Insights defines coaching as “a process which uses structured conversations to help salespeople develop their performance in the short or long term.” One of the trickier adjustments for most first time sales managers to make is to move from telling their seller what they think the answer is to help the seller come to that conclusion on their own. This illustrates why sales coaching conversations actually needed to be observed, assessed and coached themselves.

These interactions may best be held within the day-to-day workflow of the front-line manager at ceremonies like the forecast or opportunity review, but some companies will also find benefit in creating space for pure coaching conversations that don’t blend in with the old way of doing things.

3. A Development Investment Made IS NOT a Development Investment Scaled

As I sat in the room amongst practitioners aiming to solve this problem, most were at the beginning of the journey. I’m going to define this as their organization realizes Manager Effectiveness is a problem worth solving and, as a result, they have made some level of investment to help the Manager develop their team. More often today than before, this investment will take the form of added people or training dedicated to coaching sellers in need of help. After all, if the average manager does not currently have a “Coaching Mindset”, we can’t put the weight of seller development all on them.

Whether you have one or many overlay development resources, this is a fine investment to make with a big caveat. If not carefully managed, this structure can create dependency, which will prevent you from scaling.

So how should this investment be managed? There are three criteria:

  1. All seller development needs a closed loop back that engages the manager – this resource becomes a catalyst to learn a “Coaching Mindset”
  2. A way to observeassesscoach behavior change – if you use a behavior-based platform this investment instantly becomes more scalable
  3. Behavioral metrics are added to the sales management dashboard that includes traditional performance based metrics – wins for sales leadership are immediate and show up long before revenue

Once these three criteria have been fulfilled, you are now ready to reach the final destination:

Front-line managers have developed a “Coaching Mindset” and are fully accountable for the development of their team, backed by the support of their manager who makes regular observation and coaching of their own front-line managers a priority.

Any supporting infrastructure that was built does not necessarily need to disappear, but what does vanish is any dependency managers have – they can get help because they can, not because they must. This is what a fully scaled and optimized system looks like that will maximize any development investment made.

If you are on the journey that many are on, good luck! I’d love to hear from you on how it’s going and look to include you in a future event.

Request a Demo | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement & Training Solution

The New Sales Tool Stack


Think back to 15 years ago: sales tech was finally coming online, in-person meetings still ruled, and Salesforce was entering the market as a young challenger to the status quo. CRM soon became the foundation of the new sales team, driving easy alignment with the sales cycle and a stream of data that anyone could use to improve the team.

15 years later, the world of sales technology has blossomed. Along with improvements to Salesforce came a broad variety of new tools – CMS, data/analytics, lead generation, company databases, email tracking, and more. For a growing or existing sales team, the options have become incredibly complex, often with no clear path to growth or ROI. Each team carries its own toolkit, often with only a CRM at the core and a mix of other solutions supporting the organization.

Think of your toolset – if you had to remove every tool except the ones that directly lifted rep ability, what would remain?

traditional sales tool stack

What Changed?

The current sales stack, the set of tools that teams most often adopt, has a strong foundation: the Customer Relationship Management tool.

There is a fundamental difference between the impact of a CRM versus other tools on a team. A CRM, due to its organization and data-centric nature, sheds light on team performance as it relates to real data. Because it links actual sales results – new Leads and Opportunities or deals – to individual timelines, reps, or any other tracked metric, a CRM allows a team to get insight into their sales results and performance.

Other tools in the current sales stack are also crucial, but serve a different need: they are engineered to either scale or increase the productivity of these metrics, working on top of the CRM to improve the team’s existing efforts. The contrast comes in how these tools move the needle versus a CRM. While a CRM improves productivity by providing the team with data, other tools serve to increase operating efficiency. For most every tool, the team can expect an X% increase in efficiency and that their reps will able to do more with the same inputs.

But while these existing tools can squeeze more out of your team, they won’t improve the quality of the rep.

Lifting productivity alone is a fantastic goal, yet over time, it delivers diminishing returns. Tools that help reps send more emails, make more calls, and deliver more targeted content will improve productivity, but they will not improve the quality of the messaging or the ability for reps to articulate value and close more business. With poor quality messaging, feature listing, or even a limited understanding of the product, reps can be calling on accurate contacts and tracking sales cycle data without improving anything in their actual ability to convert. Productivity can only improve so much before lifts become smaller and less frequent.

What’s Missing?

While the CRM addresses how the team performs, and thus how productive they are, it does not necessarily aid a rep’s ability to interact with a prospect or win more deals. Likewise, existing toolsets can boost rep efficiency and productivity, but not what they actually say and do. This includes how well they understand and adopt core skills, messages, and behaviors, how they articulate these in the marketplace, and how often they can actually break the status quo to convert a sale.

The problem comes from any number of sources – high expense to lift rep ability, little time or support, lack of easy scalability, but addressing them promises higher returns and a more effective team.

New Sales Tool Stack

The New Sales Stack

To make change to rep ability, the new sales team toolset needs to include the opportunity for practice and alignment behind the skills and behaviors that will make for a better rep, one with the ability to articulate value at the moment of truth.

The new sales stack starts with investments in two core platforms: the CRM and practice-based sales training. Investments in a CRM address how you go to market, while dedicated adoption of a practice solution ensures you’re team is prepared to deliver when they get there.

When considering sales goals a quarter or year out, if reps are performing more efficiently in how they go to market, due to operational investments, but are at the same level of competence in the market due to lack of scalable training investments, then you’ve only nailed half of the productivity equation.

As more teams embrace a practice-based solution in parallel to core investments in CRM, they are beginning to see how practice ties to performance. When reps are challenged to adopt and apply new skills and behaviors, aligned with existing investments in tools that expand capacity, the modern sales enablement strategy has taken shape. No question the modern rep is more efficient than ever before, but they are also more effective in their ability to consult, influence and move prospects off the status quo.

3 Skills Every World-Class Sales Manager Needs To Succeed


How much training does a sales manager on your team receive to make sure they’re successful as a manager.

Sales Manager-Video_Practice

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.

How do you align your sales managers?

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