5 Areas of Development for Sales Managers

BY Kathy Crosett
Featured image for “5 Areas of Development for Sales Managers”

Did you know that only 11% of organizations focus on developing their sales managers? Deciding on a solid training program can be challenging, so we’ll discuss your sales manager development plan as we highlight five areas. Your managers likely spend plenty of time developing their reps. To get the most out of that effort, you should train your sales managers first.

Time management

Too many sales managers let technology run them. They are accustomed to the rush of adrenaline that comes with the sound of an email arriving. Yes, it could be a signed contract that has just come in from a new customer. Or it could be a message from a colleague about a nonurgent topic. If your managers check email every time their computer dings, they’ll never get their work done. On the topic of what makes a good sales manager, taking control of how time is spent rules.

Sales managers who have access to an automated coaching application should regularly use it. They can track the progress for each rep. And they can use the application’s features to make assignments and review what each rep has done since their last one-​on-​one session. Trying to monitor this progress using a traditional paper folder will take too much time.

Completing a project that takes an hour or more requires concentration. Once sales managers begin such a task, they should stay with it until they’re done. Working efficiently ultimately frees up time that they can devote to other matters. These time management practices should be part of your managers’ daily practice.

Performance Management Development Plan

Because sales managers always feel pressured, they may tell their reps how to succeed. They may relay details of the biggest sales they ever made, thinking that these stories will motivate team members. In truth, a coaching session must entail questioning the rep about what they’ve tried and what they think does and doesn’t work. When managers guide the discussion instead of monopolizing it, they lead the rep to a solution. Good sales manager training should make the individual aware of how much they are talking during a coaching session. They need reinforcement about listening and guiding as they help reps improve performance.

Leadership Commitment

Part of leadership mindset training is about helping sales managers interpret situations and react properly based on what they hear. Some individuals come into the sales manager role after a stint as a superstar. They are recognized as experts in their field. While they will continue to be experts, they must respond to team member needs. In their new role, they will wonder about how to be a good sales manager. Once they accept their role as a coach and supporter of their team’s efforts, they have developed the right mindset. It’s not all about them. It’s all about their team. A good training program should regularly remind managers to record what they’ve done to specifically develop a rep instead of trying to do the job for them.

Improving Accountability

It’s not easy to get a team member to commit to being accountable. Sales managers may find it even harder to address the individual who is not delivering as promised. With a good sales manager development plan, you can teach managers to use automated reminders to follow up with reps. That kind of reminder makes it difficult to ignore the accountability issue. Managers may need role-​play training to learn how to motivate reps who aren’t being accountable. The focus of holding reps accountable isn’t about pointing out where they are falling short. A more effective strategy is to show the rep the importance of their role in terms of achieving the department goals and getting them to agree that they can make a difference. Then, the manager should shift the conversation to figure out where in the sales process the rep is having trouble. The question of how to be a good sales manager is often answered by the accountability they can get from their team members.

Set and Maintain Pace

While sales managers must learn to efficiently manage their own time, they must be aware of time in general, especially as it relates to deal flow. Holding an efficient and regular sales team meeting is one way to keep reps on pace. If reps know they need to report on the status of a particular prospect, they’ll be motivated to make a call before the meeting. Similarly, your reps will pick up on the energy from their co-​workers during a team meeting. When they hear that a team member is close to finalizing a deal, they’ll likely work a bit harder to finish negotiating with their prospect. To run a good sales team meeting, managers will need training. Staying on track with agenda items and ending the meeting on time are marks of what makes a good sales manager. They must also maintain a positive attitude and encourage reps individually and as a team during these meetings.

Sales Manager Development Plan

Over time, as sales managers learn how to meet the needs of their reps, they will refine their skills. Consistent practice and good sales management training will help to optimize the company’s outcomes.