If you look at the overwhelming content on the internet about sales problems and issues it focuses mostly on salespeople and their performance…. “how to sell more” is the most common search term.
However, very little effort is directed towards sales leadership and frontline sales management.
According to international research on Sales Training and Sales Force Effectiveness, many Sales Leaders and Frontline Sales Managers are given very little or no support when it comes to being a competent, effective Sales Manager. In fact, many Sales Leaders and Frontline Sales Managers reported that they were given no formal training in Sales Management practices, either before or during their tenure as a Sales Manager.
Other than ‘sales coaching’ training, which in most cases is useless in that most programs offer nothing to coach to other than platitudes, most sales leaders and frontline sales managers get nothing. Zip, Zilch, Zero. The study reported that Sales Management training is the category of sales training that is addressed with the least frequency, in fact, it is less than annually or not at all.
Perhaps the way to solve the problem of ‘how to sell more’ is to start with solving the problem of how do we raise the standards of our sales leaders and frontline sales managers to lead and manage sales teams better?
Sales Leadership Problems
Here are some of the issues we need to resolve that sales leaders and frontline sales management face on a daily basis:
Sales Leadership Problem 1: Of all the teams out there in business, sales teams need to be lead and coached on a regular and consistent basis; however, very few get any form of real leadership and direction beyond quarterly targets and even less get real and effective coaching because most sales leaders and front-line sales managers have never been trained in how to perform these roles.
Sales Leadership Problem 2: Most frontline sales managers are not leading or managing their sales team, they are out there selling; either taking over the sales call from their sales teams -and calling it coaching-, or running their own territory in parallel so they do not have any time to lead, manage and coach their sales teams.
Sales Leadership Problem 3: Quite a few sales leaders are getting caught behind their desks focused on numbers and outputs, processing and managing information, data and reports for senior management.
Sales Leadership Problem 4: Many sales leaders and front-line sales managers are often very busy, being dragged in all directions by the business and therefore have a low tolerance for “noise”. If an initiative is not going to reap short-term and tangible rewards, they lose interest quickly. The Result: a reactive sales team.
Sales Leadership Problem 5: Those sales leaders who want to do better, raise the standards and lead often find the ‘best practice’ philosophical content available through keynotes, books, online resources, etc. interesting, but they are soon dragged back to the reality of the day-to-day demands. And the ‘best practice’ ideas they want to implement end up being a blip in thinking at best.
Sales Leadership Problem 6: With rapid change in markets, the expectations on sales leaders to deliver growth and outcomes are real and fall within the ever shortening corporate time frame. Sales leaders are under immense pressure to perform with very little time to be strategic and plan. They are often reacting to the markets instead of analysing and strategising for the future.
Most sales leaders and frontline sales managers are pragmatic people who are measured by the most tangible of corporate outcomes – Sales.
They have risen to the highly paid positions they hold through getting stuff done – many are clever in the street-smart sense. Which further fuels the debate about selling never been seen as a profession worth investing in.
Here’s what happens if we invest in the ongoing development of sales leaders and frontline sales managers
Studies reported that if sales leaders and frontline sales managers were more frequently and better trained and coached then their sales teams achieved higher performance and results. In no other type of sales training was a more positive correlation found between frequency of training and sales performance. Interestingly, it also revealed that sales training doesn’t need to be delivered in formal classroom settings.
The investment in developing our sales leaders and frontline managers to professional standards is far more economical with better ROIs than most sales training initiatives.