Lately, I’ve been studying and writing about sales coaching. The practice includes improving emotional intelligence, company culture and professional coaching tools. Some of this can be accomplished by rolling out effective sales management training. Both coaching and training are crucial to onboarding and sustaining a team of managers and sellers, and most leaders will use the terms interchangeably. But when you examine these topics more closely, you’ll see that coaching is flexible and individualized while training is organized and often conducted in groups.
Effective sales management training is structured and focused
Sales coaching tends to be informal and delivered in one-on-one sessions and is best received when scheduled regularly. In contrast, sales training is typically controlled and focused on specific skills or concepts. I think of sales training as best for bringing in a new manager or helping one to transition from another industry. Sales training often includes a new piece of software, such as a CRM, and adds new dimensions or enhances the sales process. Likewise, sales organizations may bring in a consultant/motivator to address the team in a conference-style event. I believe this activity combines the training/coaching disciplines and can lead to brilliant conversations and productive one-on-one sessions. An effective sales management training program will certainly include elements of both training and coaching.
Teach sales managers to coach AND train
With the right program in place, your sales managers can lead your sales team to reach new heights and become recognized experts. Your sales managers need to have the tools necessary to develop their sales team and, at the same time, drive revenue. For example, managers need to develop a mindset that supports their personal growth while taking control of time and priorities. Likewise, they need to adapt their in-person conversations to online communications that have similar impact. Keri Brooke, senior vice president for Sales Cloud Marketing, when writing for salesforce.com pointed to a study that states, “many sales leaders think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling employees what to do." There is a distinction between coaching and training, and an effective sales management training program will address both.
There are a variety of effective sales management training programs
Brooke continues to address the plight of sales managers in our new work environment. “Frontline sales managers said they lack the confidence they need to support their team, thanks in part to lack of training,” she writes. No doubt, sales managers with remote team members struggle to establish the rhythm and rapport they enjoyed with face-to-face interactions. Managers need training to be organized and disciplined. Similarly, they need the coaching component to express empathy to build trust. An effective sales management training program will incorporate these elements. Hybrid training programs can take several forms. They may combine remote and on-site meetings or modular and customizable components. Likewise, some may offer self-paced learning or facilitated delivery and review sessions. Today’s augmented programs feature microcoaching platforms with advanced data analysis and personalized automated messaging. The type you choose to train your sales managers is less important than choosing the one that gets results for your enterprise.
The best sales manager training program
The best sales manager training program is the one that plays to your sales managers’ strengths. This will assure early success and an immediate comfort level. Correcting weaknesses can come later and be easier to address with early buy-in and some victories to celebrate. In wrapping up her article, Keri Brooke cites a LinkedIn study that shows 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. “When companies make an effort to feed their employees’ growth, it’s a win-win.”
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