There is likely nothing more challenging than managing a sales team. It is a role that requires a unique set of skills, probably none of which are learned in that person’s prior role – in all likelihood, a super salesperson. Sales managers are responsible for such a wide range of tasks – managing their team’s sales funnel, holding their entire salesforce accountable, forecasting, recruiting and hiring, planning, admin, and coaching (of which we’ve seen very few sales managers actually do!) On top of that, they need to manage a team of people that are typically A-personalities, head strong, egotistical, and remote! How’s that for challenging?
So, given all this, and given he massive importance to any organization of sales revenue continuing to flow in, there must be some pretty top notch sales management schools out there. Right?
Unlike other disciplines, like marketing, accounting, general management, and even HR (for goodness sake), there are painfully few courses on sales management. Additionally, few companies offer comprehensive sales management training programs for their front-line sales managers.
No, the sad reality is that most sales managers learn how to manage directly on-the-job. More often than not, sales managers are former sales representatives (often star performers) who get promoted into management with little or no training in managing sales teams.
For whatever reason, organizations tend to assume that successful salespeople will make successful sales managers. Now, they very well might, no doubt about it. But, to assume that they will become an instantly strong sales manager without any training, direction or support is folly.
We see this same scenario play out all the time in professional sports. Ted Williams, Wayne Gretzky and Bart Starr are just three famous examples of phenomenal players that ended up being mediocre coaches. Likewise, great sales representatives often have a hard time making the transition to coaching.
It is often been said that promoting your top sales rep into a sales management role accomplishes two negatives. 1) You lose a great sales person; and 2) you gain a poor sales manager. We see this time and time again when these newbie managers are simply overwhelmed with the problems associated with supervising people and holding them accountable, spending time fixing customer problems or closing the big deal themselves, instead of showing their reps how to do it.
Why is this so? Well, simply put, it is that each role requires a completely different set of skills.
Given the massive range of skills required to effectively manage sales teams, it is imperative that sales organizations provide their sales managers with the requisite knowledge, skills and tools to succeed. And yet, many organizations remain hesitant to invest in sales management training. We suppose it’s because of the recent wave of budget cuts and hiring freezes, as organizations face increased pressure to achieve
sales goals with less and less.
What so many companies fail to realize however, is that investing in sales managers is actually one of the single best training investments an organization can make. Great sales managers produce better sales results, since a great manager can continually improve the performance of their team and harness the true potential of the salesforce.
SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and Salesforce.com training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales leaders with the direction and support to ensure positive behavior change in their sales teams.
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