Do you want to develop an awesome sales management team?
Sales leaders have several options to achieve and exceed their sales numbers. Your goal is to build a high-performance sales organization that consistently delivers outstanding results.
Given limited budgets, you need to figure out how to maximize your ROI?
Annually spending by companies:
- Sales training $20 billion on sales training
- Sales and marketing automation tools $20 billion
- Sales support materials billions of dollars
- Sales management training a few $100 million
All four of these investments are, to some degree, discretionary. We see this in times of recession when companies scale back on training, sales automation tools, and support materials.
As a sales leader, the question becomes which one yields the highest return on investment?
I strongly believe that your first dollar spent should be on sales management training. Investing in developing an awesome sales management team has a multiplying effect, as one sales manager is responsible for the performance of 8-12 salespeople. An awesome sales management team has a dramatic impact on sales training, sales automation and support materials.
Great sales managers can provide ongoing coaching post-sales training to ensure that the skills learned in training are refined and perfected. When it comes to the success of a CRM implementation, your front-line sales managers are critical in ensuring usage and compliance. The same goes for the use of sales support materials.
Why invest in your sales management team
Only 50% of sales managers receive ongoing development in core job skills. When I look at the data regarding the performance that highly effective sales managers produce, it becomes evident where I would invest my first dollar.
- Great sales coaches deliver 19% more sales than their less effective colleagues1
- Great sales managers deliver $3.5 M more sales per year2
- Companies can unleash the power within by developing great sales managers3
In fact, a great sales management team is the greatest source of competitive advantage.
All that said, most sales management training programs fail to create any sustainable impact on performance. Many sales executives have been frustrated by the limited effect that their sales management training initiatives have had on sales.
Can you relate?
Why do most sales management training initiatives fail and what can you do to maximize the ROI?
In the article The #1 Reason Leadership Development Fails, leadership guru Matt Myatt makes two critical points:
- Training is indeed the #1 reason leadership development fails. While training is often accepted as productive, it rarely is.
- Don’t train leaders. Coach them, mentor them, disciple them, and develop them, but please don’t attempt to train them.
The first problem is that we look at training and development as an event. When it comes to sales managers, a one or two-day coaching course is nice to do. Without extensive reinforcement, you shouldn’t even bother investing in any sales management training program.
Training without accountability, measurement, coaching, reinforcement and tools to help implement the concepts is like surfing the net with the fastest computer but on a dial-up network.
Most companies do not have inside training support for sales management development, so they hire external vendors. Many vendors do an awesome job delivering sales management training. Most fail to create any sustainable skill development that translates into on-the-job performance improvements.
The problem is that development and skill mastery don’t materialize over a two-day session. Effective sales management development, skill acquisition, and mastery take time. One needs to look at sales management skill development over a period of at least six months. The training session is just the first part of developing great sales managers.
Skill mastery requires intensive ongoing reinforcement.
Below are the critical success factors to help develop a team of great sales managers. If the training plan doesn’t include most of these success factors, don’t expect to have any ROI!
CEO use them, sales leaders use them. Why not provide your FLM’s with ongoing coaching? The challenge with developing your front-line sales management team is that the next level of sales management tends to be far too busy to provide ongoing coaching and support. When they interact with their sales managers, the conversation is usually focused on business issues instead of coaching.
Coaching is the most effective way to reinforce skill mastery. Regular one-on-one sessions to work through the nuances of learning a new skill is critical. Many sales managers who go back in the field have the best intentions, but when they run into challenges when practicing their new skills, they will go back to what they have always done.
The key to learning and perfecting a new skill is practicing the skill in the field. For this to happen, the sales manager needs to have the tools that will enable them to practice and implement these skills.
Sharing the successes and challenges with a coach can help work through bumps along the way. The coach can also review the use of the tools to see how the sales manager is progressing.
3. Group Learning
Another effective way to reinforce the learnings is to dedicate time for your sales managers to learn from each other. Monthly group learning sessions in which sales managers can openly share their successes and challenges as a means of learning will augment and accelerate skill development and mastery.
4. Virtual Learning
The ability to learn through video content provides great context for a training session and the ability to review key concepts post-training. The beauty of on-demand virtual training allows the learner to access the content in small sound bites when it is convenient for them. If they are running into challenges when implementing the skills, they can go back online and review the content.
5. Shared Accountability
People respect what you expect and inspect. As a sales leader, you are making a big investment in sales management training. If you want to maximize your ROI, there needs to be accountability for the sales managers to implement and perfect their new skills. It is also incumbent on the next level of sales management to be directly involved and share the accountability for ensuring that their managers become proficient in the newly acquired skills.
Sales leaders are highly competitive and want to succeed. Investing in developing great sales managers will provide them with a competitive advantage and help them achieve outstanding performance. Of the key investment areas, sales management training offers the best ROI.
A great place to begin developing your sales managers starts with their coaching skills. Great sales coaches deliver more sales, create higher levels of engagement and reduce sales rep turnover.
The problem that most sales leaders face is that they believe that training is the answer. Training without ongoing reinforcement is bound to fail. Sales leaders and trainers need to change their paradigm and look at development/skill mastery as an ongoing process that requires rigorous reinforcement.
To ensure that your investment in your sales management team training creates a sustainable impact on your sales organization, it is imperative that you have a reinforcement plan in place. Sales leaders that follow this formula will develop a team of great sales managers and “crush” their sales numbers.
1 CEB Research.
2 Vantagepoint Sales Management Training Research.
3 Forum: How Sales Forces Sustain Competitive Advantage Research Report 2008.