One of the big questions we are hearing from clients these days is this one: We’ve finally begun to turn the corner … so how do we sustain our organization’s sales momentum in a time of uncertainty?
There are a lot of ways to answer that question, but here’s a, short answer: make sure each of the people in your sales management team gets the training, reinforcement, and resources they need.
The best current estimates are that 43% of sales managers do not receive effective training prior to assuming the job. As if that weren’t enough, some 32% of sales managers report that the training they do receive on an ongoing basis is ineffective.
Numbers like that should capture our attention. They are unacceptable in normal times, but they are downright dangerous if there are major shifts in the markets we serve and concerns about the strength of the larger economy. As leaders, we need to provide the people who head up our sales teams with the support they deserve. This means assessing them to figure out their competencies, their skill gaps, and their ideal learning path; it means giving them all the training, all the tools, all of the coaching and all the personally customized support they require; and it means confirming that they are both willing and able to do the job we have hired them to do. Focus on the top things you want the sales manager to do well; focus all your training and coaching to those topics. Create “muscle memory” on the things you know they need to be great at. Yes, we want them to be great at everything, but why not start with what’s most important? It’s critical to set the right priorities. It amazes me how many companies ask us to start working with a sales manager by training them in hiring – when it turns out that the manager in question spends very little time hiring, and only hires rarely!
Today, there is a lot of money and a lot of attention being spent on sales enablement – that is, technology that gets sales forces ready to be successful. My opinion, though, is that companies should focus on sales manager enablement first … because otherwise sales enablement is a wasted investment!