During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army was retreating from a series of defeats while they were starving and freezing to death. A fateful decision changed the course of history when General George Washington went on the offensive and won the Battle of Trenton. General Washington himself crossed the Delaware River leading his troops to victory.
Great leaders know the importance of being close to the field to ensure execution, and guiding their entire leadership team to coach and manage day to day execution. Within B2B sales organizations, top performers are more likely to use a standardized sales methodology than laggards. Successful implementation of a sales process depends heavily on one key resource – the Sales Manager. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.
The sales manager teaches the reps how to follow the process, coaches them to comply and improve, and enforces a common understanding of the stages and exit criteria, producing accurate and actionable information for senior leadership. Without the sales manager as the owner of the process, execution and results are certain to fall far short of targets. The risk of failure is extremely high.
If the sales manager is so vital to the sales process, how do sales organizations leverage this key resource? Most companies do not provide sales manager specific training. Yet, sales managers are responsible for implementing the sales process. What is the best way to equip them to be effective owners of this critical function?
Our clients who have had the most success would point to these 10 key steps in designing a training curriculum for sales managers:
- Create a complete, modular curriculum, ready for deployment
- Start with a core of world-class content with detailed instructor’s notes
- Customize the content for your organization, especially HR and CRM-specific information
- Lessons are self-contained, can be taught as needed, independent of the overall course
- Limit the lessons to 90 minute segments
- Keep a regular cadence; publish a workshop calendar 6 months in advance; bi-weekly workshops work best
- Include at least one hands-on exercise in each lesson using actual, current customer scenarios, job aids and/or CRM reports; assign pre-work
- Each module is taught by a First Line Manager with support from Learning &Development or Business Operations
- The instructing manager is selected based on expertise in the topic
- Share the workload. Challenge each manager to lead at least one workshop
Here is an example of a Sales Leadership curriculum overview.
- Sales Leadership Overview
- Sales Leadership Fundamentals
- Leading vs. Managing
- Business Acumen
- Sales Environment
- Sales Coaching
- Field Evaluation
- Skills Training
- 1-on-1 Meetings
- Talent Development
- Performance Improvement
- Performance Reviews
- Situational Leadership
- Sales Management
- Territory Planning
- Technology Sales Tools
- Quota Setting
- Selling Skills
- Leading Complex Sales
- Proposal Writing
This is an example of the details for the individual 90-minute lessons on Field Evaluation under the Sales Coaching section:
- Lesson 1 – Field Day Objectives
- Observing customers and gathering insights
- Observing the rep’s use of the sales process
- Directing reps to the best opportunities
- Lesson 2 – Field Day Frequency
- New vs. tenured sales reps
- Different maturity and strength of reps
- Spontaneous field rides
- Lesson 3 – Knowing Your Role
- Observing, not selling for the sales rep
- Listening techniques
- Applying coaching vs. feedback
- Lesson 4 – Following the Field Ride Process
- How to prepare for a field ride
- How to observe
- How to properly debrief
The key benefits of this approach are:
- You will grow a staff of Subject Matter Experts and they will be recognized as resources for other managers to tap after the workshop is over.
- It is easier to make a significant impact with the sales managers because the population is relatively small compared with training the entire sales force.
- Assigning veterans to lead the lessons engages them and allows them to add value. They already know the content. Don’t exempt them, engage them.
Commit the time and funds to develop the resource most critical to the success of your sales organization. If you need ideas on the curriculum, contact me for more details on how our world-class clients have implemented this initiative.
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Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, The Met Fifth Avenue Museum