In today’s complex sales environment, the role of the sales manager is more important than ever. However, in most cases, sales managers are former top performing sellers who have been promoted to management, leaving them with a large managerial proficiency gap in their new role. These former sellers struggle to make this first jump from seller to manager and simply do not have the strong managerial skills that are needed for them to successfully lead and coach their own team of sellers.
There are several key reasons why sales managers are the critical levers that can make or break a sales organization’s success:
- The coaching that sales managers provide has a dramatic impact on sales team performance. According to a study done by the CEB Sales Leadership Council, sellers reporting to managers with high coaching effectiveness achieve 19% higher goal attainment on average.
- A good manager can also positively impact team engagement and retention. Sellers reporting to managers with high coaching effectiveness are also significantly more engaged and less likely to leave the company, an important consideration for sales organizations who hope to retain their high performers over the long-term. The ability to deliver high quality coaching is one that must be taught to sales managers and cannot be assumed to be an innate capability.
- Additionally, sellers who are more engaged as a result of a strong manager are also more likely to put in incremental effort. These sellers are more productive and more willing to go the extra mile.
Sales leaders (as shown below) recognize the discrepancy between the impact that managers can have and their current skill sets and consistently cite first-line sales managers as their most critical development area…
…but too often they don’t take action to help these managers. Despite the massive impact that sales managers have on business results, many organizations only focus development efforts on front-line sellers, neglecting to invest in their sales managers’ skills. These sales managers are left to fill their critical role with little to no help in developing necessary leadership, business acumen, coaching, and innovation skills they need to be successful. Organizations agree that sales managers are critically important but far too many aren’t backing up their beliefs with investments in managers’ development. Stop ignoring the importance of developing in your sales managers and invest in proportion to the impact that they can have on your sales teams!
There are many manager training programs out there and we would encourage you to invest in the one that fits your organization’s needs best. However, CEB Sales Effectiveness Solutions has developed a Sales Manager Development Program designed to build the skills that impact manager effectiveness most (as opposed to general leadership training). Their comprehensive program includes not only in-depth training but a full awareness-building program before the training and a full application program following to ensure that participants apply and build on the critical skills learned in the classroom. More information about the program can be found here or you can contact them directly by emailing Challenger@executiveboard.com.
In the next blog post we’ll discuss the second critical jump that sellers must make as they become sales managers.