If sales managers make a mistake and fail to meet their targets, they often explain that “his district wasn’t able to meet quotas,” or “he never realized how to do things,” “he followed the incorrect opportunities,” and such. However, does this really describe the issue, or is there more to think about?
Are management’s faults to the blame?
In my personal experience, I’ve observed numerous areas where management has failed in its duty to train sales managers. It is important to note that not all businesses are failing in every single place. But, the majority of companies have been unable in various crucial areas. If these areas are adequately addressed, the companies will reap tangible results in the near future that ensure long-term success.
Here are the topics I’m discussing:
1. Candidate Selection
The majority of sales managers are chosen by virtue of their outstanding sales record and personal assessment of personality characteristics. However, does the person possess the skills needed to inspire others to promote their products, hire new staff, coach the under-achievers and devise broad strategies for sales, all while managing day-to-day and administrative duties? It’s possible. Are we missing out on the best option?
2. Mental state of mind: Sink or Swim
I’ve witnessed numerous situations where management fills the slot with a suitable selection, believing that they have the drive to achieve. If they fail, they’ll be fired, and a different candidate will be put in the position. This method does not just send a negative message to the market but also leads to lower morale and sometimes even reluctance for candidates who are new to take the initiative.
3. The first 90-120 days
This is a crucial moment in a sales manager’s training. It’s also the moment when the manager’s enthusiasm and willingness to be a better learner are at their highest. At this time, management can fail the new manager if they fail to provide the appropriate training. The failure to deliver this training is an error of the highest order.
4. Best Practices Foundation
Management is ineffective when it fails to provide sales managers with the best practices that are essential to sales management, regardless of the industry. Most of the time, best practices are misunderstood with those that are required for personal selling, such as client retention and pipeline development, account penetration, and so on. What’s needed is a solid foundation in areas like coaching and motivation as well as team-building, recruiting and accountability.
5. Critical Mass Syndrome
Due to a variety of reasons, most notably connected to travel costs and expense, Management often will wait until the company has a significant number of sales managers who are new to give them the training together. This strategy is not able to provide new hires with the training they require quickly to be able to get quickly into their new roles. Also, it fails to meet the individual needs of each employee.
6. Delay in Investment
Many businesses wait to invest in an executive in sales until the person attains a certain degree of performance or has a certain amount of time. I’ve noticed that the employees in this scenario are not as enthusiastic about the job. They retain only a fraction of the information presented to them and tend to consider the job an opportunity to make money.
A need for the new style
The issues I have highlighted can’t be addressed adequately with the same old business approach.
The answer does not have to be traditional training programs. They fail due to their price, generalized material, and less than satisfactory retention. Instead, what’s needed is a new approach that incorporates these elements:
In a traditional course, the instructor will present the subject matter in a manner that is followed by questions, and students go home with a binder which is usually placed on a shelf to collect dust. It’s not a surprise that retention of knowledge is not high. What is required is accountability from the student. This means that the trainee has to pass the course by completing an end-of-course certification process where they provide an oral account of what they have learned. I’ve observed that retention in learning increases significantly when this kind of final exam is integrated with the process of learning.
How often do we hear that it’s impossible to determine the extent to which a training program does what it says? The answer is in creating a learning environment in which each student is assessed, and reports are provided about the level of progress, for example, performances in meetings that are facilitated and demonstrated capability to implement the acquired abilities.
The internet can be a fantastic way to deliver training when it is used correctly and when combined with both written and oral communication. It has the benefit that learners can learn at their individual pace, at a rate that does not interfere with the work schedule. Management-wise, it eliminates the issue of the critical mass syndrome and offers the ability to track progress. Also, it ensures that an equal amount of training is provided at every site.
In conclusion, managers must realize that it is vital to play an active part in the education of the next generation of sales managers. It is equally crucial that innovative solutions that are not within the boundaries of traditional methods are a vital part of this procedure.
Frank Sarr is the founder and president of Training Implementation Services. Inc. His years of experience in sales, management recruitment, training, and sales have convinced him of the fact that achieving high performance requires structure and accountability.
Frank started his career at CIGNA, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company as a broker consultant. In his 18 years working for CIGNA, he eventually was responsible for broker and agent consultant training and management development for the life insurance division for individuals of CIGNA. Following his affiliation with CIGNA and Wilson Learning Corporation, he was appointed director of Financial Services Marketing with Wilson Learning Corporation. In this capacity, He promoted Wilson Learning’s educational products to the financial service industry across Canada, the United States, Australia, and Canada. Additionally, Frank recruited and trained the entire sales staff of over 40 to Independent Financial Services, a business that was founded in the year 2000 and specialized in fee-based financial planning.