Up until 20 years ago, a key function of a sales manager’s role was the regular training of their sales people.Â What did this look like?Â Well, something like this: weekly 1 hour power training sessions for the sales team focusing on honing key skills, bi-monthly half day or 1 day sessions drilling down on account planning, strategy, market and product knowledge, and formal class room training usually employing external, expert training providers on a once or twice yearly basis to boost their teams to the next level.Â This was all supplemented by sales meetings and one-on-one coaching.
Many sales managers of yesteryear were good trainers.Â However, through my observations across many businesses, the training component has been replaced by compliance.Â Caught in a bind of having to meet their reporting and meeting obligations, sales managers lose valuable time that should be invested in the continuous development of their sales people.
I am seeing that many sales managers are now relegated to being âCRM compliance police’, caught up in reporting on numbers of leads, meetings, conversions, etc., usually at the behest of senior management to justify their investment in a CRM.Â This means that sales people are often left to fend for themselves with no sales management support at all and often feel under constant scrutiny to meet their numbers quotas.
I get constant complaints from sales managers about this ânumbers’ obsession and they not being able to support and develop their people to be their best.Â They know numbers are important but numbers are not the only aspect of effective sales performance â yet why are they required to worship at the compliance alter?
Training sales people is vital to healthy and sustainable sales performance.Â With markets becoming more complex and changing at rapid rates, regular training is imperative to help sales people keep up to date and effective.Â Training needs to be regular for it to have any effect.Â Regular âmini’ training sessions in short, sharp bursts combined with one-on-one coaching in the field makes for better and better sales performance as well as team spirit, unity and retention.Â But when do sales managers have the time to learn how to be good trainers and coaches?Â And when do they have the time to put this into practice?
Since 1997, we have been accrediting and training sales managers at Barrett to be competent trainers and coaches.Â Many report very positive outcomes as a result of being able to conduct regular training with their teams.Â Besides sales lifting, team moral improves, there is better retention of staff, and clients seem happier too.
It has been shown that if a business has skilful, professionally trained sales managers who can strategise and plan; lead, coach and train; effectively manage their unit; liaise, link and collaborate with other divisions; and regularly report relevant, real data to the business, then the performance of the sales team will improve significantly.Â No other area of development shows such a positive correlation with sales results.
As a rule of thumb, âbest practice’ states a sales manager should invest their time accordingly:
60-70% in people development (including coaching, training, performance management, recruiting, succession planning and sales meetings)
25%-30% in strategising, business planning, future thinking, etc.
5-15% in reporting and administration
This is a plea on behalf of beleaguered sales mangers everywhere â if you want great sales results, get your sales managers training again.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett endorses the propositions that ‘everybody lives by selling something’ and people buy from people they trust. Sue is founder and managing director of BARRETT, and specialises in 21st century sales training, sales coaching, sales leadership, sales capability, and sales culture transformation. Sue is one of the few prominent female voices commenting on sales today. You don’t have to be a sales person to benefit from her knowledge and insight. If you have an idea, capability, product, service or opportunity that you want to take to market then Sue says you need to be able to sell – ethically, honourably, and effectively. Sue practices as a coach, advisor, speaker, facilitator, consultant and writer and works across all market segments with her skilful team at BARRETT.Â Sue and her team take the guess work out of selling and help people from many different careers become aware of their sales capabilities and enable them to take the steps to becoming effective, and productive when it comes to selling, sales coaching or sales leadership.To hone your sales skills or learn how to sell go to www.barrett.com.au
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