How to Effectively Train New Sales Managers

BY Kathy Crosett
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Too many organizations fail to deliver training for new sales managers. If this is the attitude in your company, you are missing an opportunity to improve the sales department and your bottom line. And you’re also reinforcing the notion that sales professionals don’t need training or coaching.

The first thing a new sales manager needs to do, especially if they are just entering the organization, is to understand the corporate culture. Unless they’ve been hired specifically to transform the culture, sales managers should learn how your team members are accustomed to working. They should also educate themselves about the organization’s key accounts along with the prospects the reps have been trying to land. After that top-​level review, it’s time to start training on the details that will make a difference.

Work Efficiently

New sales managers may be accustomed to the hustle and routine of nurturing leads or closing deals. As they learn how to function in their new role, their training should address the best way to set a cadence for their daily activities. Instead conducting discovery on a new prospect, they’ll be spending their time deciding which rep should handle that job.

With an average of eight reps reporting to your sales manager, every hour is a precious commodity. If your sales manager hasn’t already conquered best-​in-​class work habits, they need to start now. One fundamental aspect of workplace efficiency is using technology to improve job performance. Training for new sales managers should include a segment on email management techniques:

  • Unsubscribe from distribution lists that they aren’t reading
  • Designate two times a day to check email and address emergencies

Another aspect of workplace efficiency is personal workflow. Once a manager starts a task, they should complete it before moving on. Managers who multitask or jump from task to task work inefficiently. If they leave a project half-​finished, it takes additional time and brain energy to remember what they were doing on the task before they can complete it.

Show Empathy

Sales reps are accustomed to watching the individual reactions of prospects and clients to figure out what they are thinking. In their new role, your sales manager needs training on how to determine what their reps are thinking and hoping for. If you provide them access to sales skills assessment results for each rep in their department, they’ll have a starting point. Train them on how to read the results in the context of motivating their reps.

This element of performance management should also include training on how to give out rewards and recognition. In this era, it’s no longer enough to say, “Great job. Get back to work.” Today’s employees expect more. Whether it’s tickets to an in-​person sporting event, once we’re all enjoying such activities in person again, or high praise during a team call, managers shouldn’t miss this opportunity. The results of the sales skills assessment will help managers understand each team member’s motivation. For some sales professionals, money speaks. For other reps, the chance to pitch to a major prospect is exactly what they’ve been waiting for. New managers can establish themselves as empathetic when they recognize good work in a meaningful way. And that exchange with an employee will build trust.

Develop Skills

When managers work efficiently, they’ll have time to address their most important task. And by fitting into the culture and building trust with their reps, they will also have the credibility necessary to effectively coach their team members. Focusing on skill development allows managers to move the middle of the team into the improved-​performance zone.

Most new sales managers don’t know where to begin when it comes to improving their team. In a Sales Management Association Sales Coaching Practices report, 55% of managers report not knowing how to coach. Using an automated coaching system can make a difference. First, managers must understand which reps need help on specific aspects of sales. Not everyone, for example, needs coaching on how to close a deal. Next, the manager must find the communication style that will result in the rep’s changed behavior. And finally, the manager should get the rep to agree on an improvement plan and accept responsibility.

Training for New Sales Managers

When training for new sales managers becomes mandatory in your organization, you'll notice a big improvement in employee loyalty and engagement. And that improvement will positively impact the bottom line.