Sink or Swim: are You Giving Sales Managers the Tools and Skills They Need to Keep Afloat?

Sales managers have one of the oddest routes to leadership of anyone in business. Essentially it is this: they show exceptional skill over time at one task – selling – and eventually they are tapped to do a host of other tasks: coaching, territory planning, commissions plan structure, using analytics tools, and a host of other managerial jobs. That’s like saying to a college football player, “you’ve won the Heisman Trophy! Now, because of your demonstrated abilities, go and master ice hockey, ski jumping, auto racing and basketball!”sink or swim And you’d better master all these tasks quickly, too, because it’s not like new sales managers get a grace period. They are expected to deliver quickly, and they usually aren’t given the tools to succeed. Coaching is a good example of this. According to a June 2015 Sales Management Association study, it’s the third most valuable thing managers can do. Yet the same study showed that only 28 percent of companies used coaching objectives in their evaluation of sales manager success, and only 16 percent used coaching objectives in determining sales manager compensation. Not only are new managers expected to sink or swim, but many of their own organizations won’t even incentivize them to help emphasize behaviors that the organizations want to see out of them. If incentives are useful in driving sales rep behavior, isn’t it also important to use incentives to drive manager behaviors, too – to reinforce priorities, emphasize learning and push managers up the learning curve – and, more importantly, help them understand the right direction to take up the curve? That means getting management to align its objectives around priorities, which past research has suggested had yet to be done effectively in most organizations. Coaching is just one of the challenges that will be tackled on March 22 in a Webinar CallidusCloud is producing. The participants bring plenty of practical insight to the topic of “Solving Sales Operations Biggest Challenges in 2016,” examining how companies can most effectively handle incentive compensation and performance management, sales force development, onboarding and the automation of day-to-day tactical tasks. Taking on those issues are Christine Dorrion, VP of Sales Operations and Enablement at CallidusCloud, Mille Heiman’s Diana Weigand, Sales Performance Consultant, and the SMA’s own chairman, Bob Kelley, who will share more original research to help identify areas your where your organization should shifting its priorities. Come with your questions ready! And if you have any new sales managers toiling away, give them a break. Better yet, give them the tools they need to succeed. Those would include a solid sales enablement platform that allows salespeople – and managers – to find the right information quickly, and analytics so that managers can coach to individual salespeople’s needs, not to a generic standard across the sales force. Without these tools, managers can’t deliver the quality coaching that’s increasingly expected of them, and your company risks becoming a statistic in the next set of research done by the SMA.

By Chris Bucholtz | March 21st, 2016 | Sales Performance Management (SPM)

About the Author: Chris Bucholtz

Chris Bucholtz

Chris Bucholtz is the content marketing director at CallidusCloud and writes on a host of topics, including sales, marketing and customer experience. The former editor of InsideCRM, his weekly column has run in CRM Buyer since 2009. When he's not pondering ways to acquire and keep customers, Chris is also an avid builder of scale model airplanes.