Thursday, February 2, 2017

Are You Training Your Sales Managers? - You Should and Here is Why and How

Being a sales leader is not easy.  You need skill sets that are more focused on people skills (as you are now managing and leading salespeople) than technical skills.  In adults, people skills are hard to train.  Here are keys to finding a successful sales management training company, facilitator and methodology.

1.  Take your time - A one-time program for 2-5 days, 2 weeks or even a month does not even begin to cut it.  The best programs are phased, behavior-based, include individual coaching and last a minimum of 2 years.  Think about it, an MBA takes two years and it is mostly focused on technical skills that people tend not to retain and practice.  People skills are much harder to train and make into habits.  The best sales management training is a “practical MBA” focused on people skills related to management, leading, coaching, time management, corporate culture, strategy implementation, etc.  Take your time and invest in a longer program that focuses on habits (permanent) versus skills/knowledge (temporary).

2.  Hire the best - Great behavior trainers are hard to come by.  It takes years to master giving behavior-based feedback and knowing and becoming a behavior expert.  Make sure the facilitator you hire is sharp and gives positive and points of improvement feedback.  The facilitator will make or break your training and is going to be with your teams for at least two years.  Vet this person out and make sure they fit well with your people and get results.

3.  Go for the “Show-How”, not just the “Know-How” – Make sure there are lots of opportunities to practice in the training.  There should be role-plays, interactive exercises, challenging practice and constant feedback.  Make sure the knowledge is kept simple and powerful and that the emphasis be put on “doing it” and getting positive feedback for encouragement and points of improvement feedback for growth. 

4.  Have Internal Champions – There should be a group of senior leaders supporting the initiatives, one internal point person leading the programs and interacting with the facilitator(s) and one coordinator from each group to be the internal leader for the group (making sure people are informed and do the homework, coordinating dinners, etc.).

5.  Keep your groups small and have coaching calls included - Behavior training takes individual attention in a group setting and one facilitator can only do this with between 6-10 people in the room.  Make sure that in addition to the group training individual coaching calls are done in-between sessions for at least an hour by phone with each participant.

Invest in your people and they will invest in you with a huge payback.  Programs with the elements described above create great sales leaders and cultures.  One such program is called Culture-Driven Sales Management.  A program like this pays back with 3x more profit per employee, 4x faster revenue growth and 50% better retention (John Kotter – Harvard Business School). 


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