Sales Leader Development

What is Sales Leader Development?

Sales leader development is the process of preparing people to be good sales leaders and managers who can effectively optimize their sales teams' performance to grow the organization's revenues. Critical to a company reaching its goals is equipping sales leaders with the skills to...

Effectively manage key sales functions
Manage and motivate salespeople to reach greater level of personal, team and organizational success

Our Sales Leader Growth Path to Success

Strategic Enhancement Group (SEG) uses a Growth Path to Successful Sales Leadership for sales managers and leaders to learn the skills they need to effectively lead their sales teams to achieving or surpassing their goals.

The Sales Leader Growth Path includes training needed for new and even experienced sales leaders along with the coaching they will require to reinforce what they lean so they will use it.

Sales Leadership Growth Path

How Do You Maximize Sales Leader Development Effectiveness and Investment?

75% of overall effectiveness is achieved before and after the training event.

A learning event, by itself, will improve skills up to 25%, but without reinforcement it will begin to deteriorate over time. To improve the results and achieve the desired performance outcomes of a learning event, there are some best practices that will dramatically increase the likelihood that what is learned in the classroom makes a difference in job performance.

According to research conducted by Wilson Learning, if you do pre-event preparation and communication using the tools listed below, you will increase the likelihood of improved job performance after the learning event by another approximately 25%. They also found that the way to get the very best results, i.e. sales people and their managers using the skills successfully, is to reinforce the skills through coaching and skill refreshers after the learning event. This will add another 50% effectiveness to the training results.

+ 25%

Pre Event Preparation and Communication

Prior to an learning event, preparation should be done to set the expectations and help improve learner readiness. This takes little time but reaps great rewards.

  • Link to Business Strategy
  • Executive Sponsorship
  • Communication Plan
  • Expectations, Processes and Tools
  • Manager Preparation

25%

Learning Event

Having seminars that employ inside-out learning with skill practice in the workshop give the best chance that the skills will be used. Our programs challenge people to think, which helps participants to make better connections between the new skills being learned and their use in the work place.

+ 50%

Post Coaching and Reinforcement

With managers who are trained in coaching skills and actually coach their direct reports, the performance of direct reports improves by about another 50% and continues for longer periods of time. This plan gives the best chance for a good ROI.
  1. The manager is trained on general coaching skills
  2. The manager is trained on how to coach to the specific skills their employees are learning
  3. The manager coaches their direct reports

Why is Sales Leader Development Important?

“An organization can gain a 29% increase in top line sales performance due to the skills of sales managers, independent of the skills of their sales people,” according to research conducted by Michael Leimbach, PhD at Wilson Learning. Most sales managers are promoted because of their success as a sales person. Many times that promotion leaves the company short of one very good sales person and gaining one pretty sorry manager/leader.

One of the reasons is that it is assumed that these people already know how to do the things necessary for successfully leading their team of sales people. Sales leaders need training too. Only one in five organizations budget for this type of training despite it being desperately coveted by sales leaders.

Put on top of that the fact that 74% of sales managers oversee their own sales accounts in addition to managing their teams. When push comes to shove, most people will revert to doing what they know how to do and can do it well. That leaves a lot of the important work of a sales leader left undone.

In order for sales leaders to thrive, they need to know what is expected of them, training in the skills that are necessary to be effective, and have the time to do the most critical activities that lead to growth and goal attainment.

An organization can gain a

29%

increase in top line sales performance due to the skills of sales managers, independent of the skills of the their sales people.

Michael Leimbach, PhD

VP Research & Design
Wilson Learning

KEY SKILLS OF A
Sales Leader

Creating a vision of winning for the sales team and communicating it to the organization’s key stakeholders (executives and sale people alike)

Setting and executing strategies that will take the organization beyond its current position and maximize revenue

Creating a culture of sales success where it is facilitated and expected

Encouraging the best from the sales team, emphasizing the use of goal setting and skill development

Promoting a coaching culture and mindset that helps salespeople to continually grow and prosper

Improving poor performance or eliminating it

Conducting effective one-on-one meetings to overcome obstacles, coach for success and drive superior performance in all parts of the sales cycle

Holding sales people accountable for achieving their goal or quota

Understanding and using the tools for Sales Enablement

Hiring the right sales people who will excel in their sales environment

The bottom line is that the quality of a sales leader has a profound impact on their sales people’s success.

In a study conducted by Steve W. Martin as reported in Harvard Business Review, 69% of sales people who exceeded their annual quota rated their sales manager as being excellent or above average. Every sales person knows the quality of their sales manager will make a huge difference in their own success. In this same study, high performing sales leaders achieved an overall average annual quota attainment of 105% compared to 54% for underperforming sales managers.

Suffice it to say strong sales leaders can attract and retain the best and most productive salespeople.

69%

of sales people who exceeded their annual quota rated their sales manager as being excellent or above average.

Steve W. Martin

Harvard Business Review

105%

overall average annual quota attainment achieved by high performing sales leaders compared to 54% for underperforming sales managers.

Steve W. Martin

Harvard Business Review

The best sales organizations have leaders who lead with strength, establishing a code of behavior that continually wins.

They use their experience to determine strategic direction and coach team members individually. Most importantly they know how to keep the team on track and focused on winning. In essence, they add critical value to the salesforce.

Let's talk sales leadership

What are some symptoms of a poorly prepared sales leaders?

High turnover in the sales force

The cost of hiring the wrong person for your sales organization can have some pretty daunting effects. They can cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in the expense of hiring and training, lost sales, damage to the company brand, demoralizing the sales team and draining the resources within an organization. Sales is a hard job with lots of rejection. It’s important when hiring the right sales people, to look at their ability to do the skills required to be successful, their willingness to do what it takes, and how they will fit within the organization’s culture. This entails looking at the type of sales environment you have and whether or not they can thrive in that environment, understanding the skills and competencies required for your type of sales and getting a sense of their values.

Another component of the hiring has to include meeting the altruistic needs of employees, including sales people. They are looking for much more from their employers, such as a work environment that matches their values and a good work-life balance.

Hiring someone who is not really willing to do the work or doesn’t fit your work environment and you don’t fit their values can be very costly. You can liken a bad hire to building a brand new factory and never opening the doors to production. Ouch!

Sales people floundering

80% of a manager’s time is spent with under performers while only 20% is spent with those who produce 80% of the sales. Sales people are competitive and want to get better. They want the sales coaching that will help them do so. If you think that they don’t, think about some of the people who are the best in their fields – Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Yo-Yo Ma, Julie Andrews, Meryl Streep – they all continued to be coached even though they are or were at the top of their fields. If top performers don’t get attention by being really good they will do one of two things: quit or stop performing so they can get the attention they crave.

Having the right skills to sell professionally can be another factor in a sales person’s struggles. Learning to position value, negotiate win-win solutions and how to beat the competition require skill sets that are not inherent in most people. Training them in those skills is not really an option if you want to reach your goals.

Missed opportunities in the marketplace

This is an old adage but still very true: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Here’s another one: “Nothing fails like success.” It is so easy to become complacent and just put your nose to the grindstone, ploughing ahead directionless. I think about IBM and how they really missed the boat as they basked in the success as the “big blue machine.” Today they are an afterthought in the computer world. Looking to the future, anticipating how things can change and getting feedback from your customers takes time, energy and thought. Many times that time and energy is being spent on stuff that won’t keep the organization on the leading edge.

Sales cycles too long

Complex sales typically have longer sales cycles. But sometimes the sales process itself can lengthen the sales cycle. Using the attitude of “We have to sell our way” versus taking their cues from the customer and moving along their buying journey can not only frustrate a buyer but make more work that really isn’t necessary to win the business.

Organizational infighting with other departments causing problems for sales people and their customers

A barrier to a sales person’s success can be directly attributed to the barriers and obstacles they face within their own companies. A lot of times sales people will make promises that are very difficult for their company to meet. There can be problems with production, finance departments, R&D, etc. A sales leader who doesn’t work to eliminate these barriers only adds to the complexity of making a sale and meeting customers’ expectations.

Developing teams that look at problems from the customer’s perspective and work to eliminate the barriers within an organization is part of a sales leader’s duties. If individual salespeople are left to fight these battles, it only creates animosity and frustration. Sales leaders can foster a collaborative environment with all departments working together instead of fighting each other.

Priorities are misplaced

If there is a universal complaint we hear from sales leaders and managers, it is the mountain of paper work and reports they need to provide that sucks up so much of their time. This results in other important activities being pushed to the bottom of the pile. Sales people also complain of this paper work mountain. The more time everyone can spend on activities that directly relate to making sales, the more successful the organization will be. Sales leaders need to work on removing this barrier to success or at least make it less daunting with more of a ‘what’s in it for me’ motivator.

One of the casualties of misplaced priorities is the lack of a cohesive vision and strategic plan. If these are in place, activities’ effectiveness in reaching the goals can be measured against these. If they are not, then a lot of energy can be spent on providing meaningless information. Resources such as support people, budget allocations and collaborative cross functional teams are critical to helping a sales organization reach their targets and help the company grow.

Missed revenue targets

As Peter Drucker said, “Leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” In sales, more than just about any other part of the organization, results are the only focus. Setting goals without providing the tools, training and support required to meet those goals is paramount to spitting in the wind. There is so much that contributes to this failure. It could be as simple as you don’t have the right people in place to as complex as an unforeseen, never experienced pandemic that shuts down not just the US economy but the entire world’s economy. In between, you could have the right product at the wrong time or in the wrong market or simply the wrong product for today’s needs. Your sales people could be focused on the wrong opportunities or they are not using the skills they’ve learned to help them win business.

Sales culture is sick

Having a culture that nurtures success with a sales team begins with the sales leader. A healthy sales culture has the right kind of recognition and reward systems, healthy and constructive feedback protocols, and the tools that are needed to succeed. Without these in place, retaining top sales talent will always be a struggle. Sales enablement, or providing the right tools, is a key component of creating the healthy sales culture. These include things like access to information, content that aids in the sales process, marketing that works in conjunction with the sales strategies and an effective CRM that provides useful information with a minimal amount of work on the part of the sales person. Without allocating resources to each of these areas, creating a good sales culture is virtually an impossible endeavor.

Lack of team focus on achieving the goal

Achieving the goal is only achievable if the goal is a) communicated, b) driven by the company’s leadership and c) supported by the company’s strategies and allocation of resources and budget.

One organization with whom we worked had a strategy where they tried to be all things to all people. Sounds good but it’s way too hard to accomplish. First off, their brand becomes blurry; what do they do really well? When a company is thinking of a solution to a problem, they usually go right to the specialists. Secondly, the sales team is scattered, ending up being a jack of all trades but a master of none. If nothing else, in our world today, mastery is highly valued.

On the other hand, the company that understands these things - markets and industries where they have the best opportunities to excel, the kind of companies and buyers that provide the best opportunities for growth, and the products/services that will help these buyers solve their major problems - has the best road map for achieving their goals. Leadership that supports their goals with actions, not just words, lends credibility and importance to their achievement. Providing the resources, with sales enablement being a critical part of it, helps the team to stay focused on doing the things that will make it happen.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do. And you could end up somewhere you may not want to be.

Want top performing sales leaders in your organization?

 The Path to Growth Starts Here

How Can SEG Help?

Developing sales leaders is a major component of our core strength. Since 1984, we’ve help build sales manager’s/leader’s skills to help them be truly effective in helping their sales team achieve success, for themselves and for their organization. We work in these areas to develop the skills and behaviors that will help your sales leaders be strong leaders.

Create a compelling vision and strategies

Define the pillars of your business: What currently holds the business together, what are those areas of your business that are critical for survival and for moving forward.

Through strategic planning we work with organizations to define their mission, create their vision and develop strategies that will make their vision a reality.

Develop hiring protocols that find the right talent for your sales environment

There are two dimensions to selling: complexity and relationship, both lie within the context of the company’s strategy for going to market. What kind of sales do you do?

Assess their skills and identify areas for improvement

Critical to implementing and reinforcing skills and behaviors, is a solid coaching program to guide the sales team along the journey, and most importantly during the time right after the training program sessions.

Learn and use the five practices that all good leaders need to do

Purpose comes from within the leader. You need to truly live the values, purpose, and vision if you want to see it reflected in your employees, family and friends.

Effectively lead global teams

Virtual teams working remotely across the globe is not new but having the whole company working remotely in virtual teams is.

Why is selling globally important? Having a workforce that is fluent in the ways of the world is no longer optional.

Coach and strategize to win the right kind of business that is good for the customer and good for your organization

When you understand the full scope of customer needs, you will satisfy them fully. You generate bigger contracts, you create a champion within that company and a champion for you because you're covering everything they need.

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