Sales Managers: Overwhelmed and Underdeveloped | Our First 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report

We’re proud to announce our first Sales Manager Enablement Report, which explores an important and timely topic at the intersection of sales enablement and sales management.

Most new drivers are awkward and self-conscious behind the wheel, but after many years of driving, most reach a level of “unconscious competence” where driving just comes naturally. This unconscious competence gives them the skill to react quickly and effectively to changing conditions.

Now, let’s think about the sales managers who are “in the driver’s seat” for their lead quota-carrying salespeople.

  • Do they have “driving licenses” to be sales managers?
  • Do they have a common foundation such as traffic regulations in your sales organization? Did they have a chance to learn all the skills (yes, there is more than coaching) to become coaches, leaders and business managers at the same time?
  • Or do they think that being a passenger has given them the skills to be a competent driver?

The fact is that few managers get the training they need. Bad habits formed early on or adopted by emulating their managers become engrained and are repeated year after year, with much the same results. They develop an unconscious competence, but one that exhibits all of the wrong behaviors. Worse, when sales get stressful, these bad habits are magnified.

Sales enablement is a growing trend, but sales performance is not really improving

Let’s keep that fact in mind as we consider that for many organizations, increased investments in sales force enablement are not leading to the gains they expected in sales performance. In our 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, only one-third of respondents said their enablement initiatives met or exceeded the majority of their expectations. While sales force enablement as a discipline grew between 2013 and 2016, quota attainment decreased. Clearly, something is missing.

The missing ingredient: Sales manager enablement

The sales manager is the salesperson’s frame of reference. Managers directly impact what, where, how, and to whom the salespeople sell. Furthermore, their span of control often extends to six or more direct reports.

Sales managers are the key to optimizing performance, but enablement initiatives typically don’t pay them much attention. And any training the managers may have received when they were first promoted is not going to be sufficient to carry them forward to the roles they are expected to fulfill today. We know that salespeople need to adapt to a rapidly changing world… and so do sales managers.

Our work with clients shows a broad range of reasons for this investment gap: failure to connect investments to sales results, not having adequate budget to cover both salespeople and their managers, and a general lack of awareness of the complexity of the sales manager’s role and its impact on sales execution, performance, and transformation.

In our first CSO Insights Sales Manager Enablement Report, we provide background, data, analysis, ideas, and proven concepts to help you develop a holistic sales manager enablement program designed to move the needle in a scalable and sustainable manner.

Sales Manager Enablement Report topics include:

  • Why sales managers have the hardest job in sales
  • How to build a business case for sales manager enablement
  • How to assess your current sales manager maturity
  • How to design a holistic sales manager enablement program
  • Why sales coaching is so crucial and how to get it right
  • How to leverage technology for ultimate sales manager effectiveness
  • How to overcome obstacles and ensure a successful rollout

You can download your copy report here.

Questions for you:

  • Do you experience implementation challenges with your enablement services for salespeople?
  • Does your organization suffer from low adoption rates and a lack of reinforcement?
  • Do you have a specific sales manager enablement program in your organization?

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