New Survey Shows How to Develop Excellent Sales Managers

By Norman Behar

When speaking to clients, I often make the point that sales success is highly correlated to the effectiveness of their frontline sales managers – those who have day-to-day responsibility for managing the sales teams. These responsibilities typically include hiring, managing sales performance, coaching, and leading their teams. Obviously, these are not easy tasks.

In our book, The High-Impact Sales Manager, we describe the “Star Athlete Syndrome,” where high-performing sales professionals are promoted into sales management positions with the assumption that their individual sales success will translate into better sales team performance. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, since the skills they developed as sales professionals do not prepare them for the key responsibilities they will assume as sales managers.

To better understand the correlation between sales management skills and sales team performance, we (in partnership with Selling Power) recently conducted a survey that included sales leaders from more than 20 industries. A new report, “2017 Sales Management Research Report: Five Hallmarks of High-Impact Sales Organizations,” based on survey findings, was published this week (and can be downloaded here).

As part of our analysis, we compared high-impact (where over 75% of sales reps achieve quota), average (where 25% to 75% of reps achieve quota), and low-performing organizations (where less than 25% of reps achieve quota).

This list summarizes what we found were the five hallmarks of high-impact sales organizations:

  1. Sales managers spend more time coaching.
  2. They are better at managing sales performance.
  3. They are more proficient at recruiting and hiring.
  4. They earn their teams’ trust and respect.
  5. Their sales organizations invest more to develop sales managers.

It was interesting to note that, while most organizations recognize the leverage sales managers can have in increasing sales team performance, most sales managers are left on their own to learn how to coach their teams. In fact, 45% of the respondents reported that they do not have sufficient resources or budget for the development of their sales managers.

We also learned that the biggest impediment to implementing a sales management training program was (according to 65% of respondents) competing priorities. While I wasn’t totally surprised by this response, I seriously question what other sales initiatives would have a higher impact on sales performance than training frontline sales managers.

I continue to believe that training sales managers has a huge impact on sales team performance – and the responses from our survey seem to validate this point. To download the full report, please click here.

Norman Behar is CEO and managing director of Sales Readiness Group.

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