As part of our annual Q3 Research Tour, SBI surveyed over 10,000 sales reps. 66% of the respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the following statement: I believe increasing the time invested by my sales manager in coaching, training and development activities will have a positive impact on my performance.


Reps crave training from their managers. Better managers will help your reps deliver results. Yet, quality coaching and developing isn’t happening in many organizations and managers are producing lackluster results. This is because companies are investing in methods that don’t work, like event-based training and off-the-shelf offerings.


Event-based training is ineffective. When you learned a foreign language in school, did you take a 3 day class and become fluent? No. People who attend seminars and training events retain less than 20% of the information after just 30 days. If you are considering sending your sales managers to training seminars in 2013, keep your money.


Off-the-shelf training is also not worth the money. If your managers have difficulty coaching reps on opportunity management, sending them to a sales training course won’t work. They may learn some generic tips, but not how to teach their reps to work through the bottlenecks of one of your deals. The focus needs to be relevant to your business.


Here are 2 ways you can set your sales managers up for success in 2013:


1. Connect Skills & Outcomes

2. Go Custom

3. Connect Skills & Outcomes

50% of solving a problem is defining it correctly. To do this, you have to identify the gaps in your current team. A way to identify the relationship between skills and outcomes is to benchmark them against a set of competencies like these.


Sales Management Skills Assessment


In this case, Managers B and C are weak in several areas. They are doing a poor job of coaching their teams and it’s costing you revenue production. By defining the gaps between skills and results, you will understand specifically where your managers struggle and how it relates to hitting the number. Without this, you are investing in solutions based on gut feel that won’t deliver results. If you want to add to your skill assessments, Dan Perry provides additional guidance on using non-quota metrics in this article.


Go Custom

Now that you know where your opportunities lie, you can invest in solutions that will impact results. Our research shows companies spend $4-6K annually on sales rep training. In an organization with 25 sales reps, this is a $150K investment that often doesn’t deliver. How should you spend it? Develop a custom sales management program.


You need a sustainable approach focused on your management requirements. The image below is an example of a customized 90 day curriculum modeled to the previous sales management competencies.


Custom Sales Management Curriculum resized 600


The curriculum is spread across a full quarter for several reasons:


1. Reality – Your managers have a day job. If you want results, asking them to implement everything at once isn’t realistic.

2. Retention – Eat the elephant one bite at a time. If they are going to maximize the investment, it has to come in bite-sized pieces.

3. Repetition – A sustained sales management program avoids sending a “flavor of the week” message to your team. The weekly cadence of activities creates a culture of change management.

4. Ownership – Developing your own custom curriculum, you own the content. As your business evolves, so will the needs of your sales managers. Owning your training curriculum allows you to build on development modules to enable future leaders.


The Impact

A well-known proverb says “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” By investing in your sales managers, you are teaching your team how to fish. Gone is the focus on the individual superstar rep. In its place is a leader who can hire, coach and develop a world class sales team.


The Measuring Sales Management Impact tool below shows what a 12% increase in performance can do across a sales department with 30 reps and $1M individual quotas. Companies who take this approach see a dramatic return on investment in comparison to generic one-off training sessions. You can access this tool to calculate the upside potential of your team here.


Sales Management Impact Tool


Call to Action

2013 is coming up quickly. Before investing in training, make sure you identify how your team’s skill gaps translate into outcomes. Develop a custom curriculum that focuses on your specific needs.


Matt Sharrers is one of the greatest developers of sales managers I’ve seen. Many of you have first-hand knowledge of his ability to develop world class sales managers. He will tell you it requires hard work, time and commitment to the process. He’ll also tell you he never missed his number when he was managing sales managers because he developed a custom curriculum that focused on the needs of his team. Send Matt a note if you’re interested in how to make this work for your sales managers in 2013.


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