This post originally appeared here in the Training Industry blog.
Every day, sales organizations fall victim to the same three sales training myths. These myths not only cost organizations time and money, but they also impede sales manager effectiveness. Do you need to exorcise any of the following myths from your thinking?
Have you ever met a sales manager who operates in a generic, sterile environment? Why do we tend to train them using a generic, sterile list of competencies, such as problem-solving and decision-making? These competencies are important, but they are a bird’s eye view of a sales manager’s job.
Sales managers live in a complex world. To be effective, their training must take a broader and deeper view of the training needs for that role. The process should begin with the identification of key selling activities of the salespeople they will manage. Then, design training to address the specific skills that sales managers will need to help their reps achieve success in those areas. Will they include problem-solving and decision-making? Probably. But they will also include tactical processes like forecasting, call planning and pipeline management – in other words, the day-to-day tasks that managers and sellers actually do.
Coaching is a critical skill for sales managers, but simply providing coaching training doesn’t guarantee that it will take place. First, coaching training is more than just learning how to observe sales calls and provide feedback. Training should equip sales managers to determine which specific activities to coach, what information is needed, why one type of coaching is preferable to another, when to coach and the proper venue for an effective coaching conversation.
In addition, if the training is to be effective in the long term, sales coaching must be operationalized into a sales manager’s day-to-day routine. Having the skills to coach is one thing, but setting aside the time to do it is another. Training must include a plan to inject coaching into a management rhythm that allots the necessary time and resources to do it.
Training companies often provide coaching programs that can only be used in conjunction with their own proprietary sales methodology. If you want their coaching program, then you must adopt their sales program, too. Many clients assume that sales management training always comes with a new sales methodology, but that’s not necessarily so.
If you have a working sales methodology in place in your organization, there is no reason to replace it simply to align with a training company’s management curriculum. In most cases, sales managers don’t need a new methodology to coach; they need training on how to integrate all their existing tools, methodologies and resources into a cohesive sales management approach. A thoughtful sales management program can be deployed on top of any sales methodology.
There we have it: three common sales manager training myths – demolished. If you’ve fallen victim to any of these common assumptions, don’t feel bad. Many smart and highly motivated folks have, too. It takes a while to escape common “wisdom,” but you can do it.