Sound familiar? This post is written for the VP of Sales who wants to eliminate promoting the wrong rep to sales manager. You don’t have to endure a year of pain to come to this realization. During this working session with your peers, we tackled this problem.
The Answer: Implement a Sales Leadership Council (SLC)
What is an SLC?
A Sales Leadership Council is the top 10% of your sales force that has expressed an interest in sales management. It is built on the Action Learning Methodology (ALM) that was founded in the 1930’s. ALM is a process whereby people in a similar role learn together. They tackle real issues and reflecting on their actions. Potential sales managers acquire knowledge of the role before pursuing it.
How did you get here?
“Great players don’t make great coaches”. One of the most overused sayings. Yet, you are reading this thinking about your new sales manager productivity problem. You had a hunch they would hate managing. You buckled for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your SVP pushed you about open Manager head count.The top performer assured you sales management is what they wanted.You didn’t want to play Sales Manager in the open spot.
Promoting the wrong rep to sales manager has multiple implications. Your miscast manager leaves because he can’t handle being demoted. Reps on the team leave because nobody likes a bad sales manager. Your SVP and CEO brand you as somebody who can’t pick sales management talent. All of this causes you to eventually be passed over for promotion because you are branded as a VP that can’t develop people. You are a blocker.
Benefits of a Sales Leadership Council
An SLC allows prospective future managers to “try before they buy”. The current sales team provides direct feedback to you as to how this person would be as a sales manager. This allows you to coach them on critical management habits before they really need them. You develop an active leadership pipeline for your region and for the company. If you want to get promoted, you have to grow your replacement. An SLC allows you to improve new sales manager productivity. Participants from the SLC are not in shock over what to do when they get promoted. Lastly, it sends a great message to your current sales managers. They realize you are developing new people that can take their job. An indirect fear of loss never hurt in the world of motivation.
5 Steps to an SLC
#1 – Apply and Interview – Reps are nominated by their Sales Manager to interview for membership. The interview is a structured ‘A’ player interview. These reps are asked sales management competency based questions. You can obtain 2012’s complete list by clicking here.
The interview process is you and your boss. The SVP of Sales must interview every single applicant. If your sales force is serious about retention and development, the symbolism is powerful.
#2 – Selection
The reps who score at or above the ‘A’ player benchmark for Sales Management at your company are considered. (if you don’t have an ‘A’ player benchmark you can build one by clicking here.) Those who don’t make it in are told why. As part of their participation, they are given a focused sales leadership development plan. They are on the SVPs “top 20%” list and given face time when your boss is in town. This has an immediate impact on retention via targeted ‘A’ player development.
#3 – Execution – Use SBI Action Learning Method for Sales Leadership Development
Each quarter, members participate in a variety of sales coaching and sales leadership areas. For example:
- Sales Enablement – Reviewing the results of the New Product Launch and devising a plan to help reps struggling to penetrate accounts
- Sales Management – Conducting a series of interviews of candidates and participating in the process from screening to offer extended
- Sales Planning – Participating in a budget review or forecast call with the SVP of Sales
- Sales Development – Leading one monthly sales training meeting focused on Sales Process reinforcement
#4 – Cadence
Maintaining a development cadence with an SLC is simple. Start a chatter group on sfdc. Members post daily observations and issues they face. You can give real time feedback.Twice per month, conduct a conference call with the SLC where a couple members share a scenario in more detail. Other members offer suggestions and you ensure direction is consistent. Twice per year, run a meeting for best practice sharing. Your SVP attends this meeting. Members are responsible for quarterly updates on their progress on the SLC Development Plan. It is reviewed by you quarterly. These are your future managers; don’t delegate development.
#5 – Removal from SLC
Your SLC members must lead the way on process adherence and performance. It is more than just what they do; it is how they do it. They need to maintain top 20% performance on a rolling 6 month basis. They should be in the top quartile on sales process execution, new product penetration and executing thier cross functional tasks. You want to ensure this person is as focused on methods as they are on results. These are things great managers do. If they slip below the mark,they are removed.
Number 1 reason SLC fail: You wait for somebody else to do it. You can implement this in 30 days in your region and outpace your peers. I have seen guys like Ryan Joswick stand these programs up in 30 days. I helped him solidify his ‘A’ Player Benchmark which is the hardest part. Once that was done, he was in motion. If I can do the same for you, let’s have a quick chat and get you started.