The Role of Sales Management in Sales Training
On this episode, we talk about the role of sales management in sales training. The question is: To what extent should a sales manager be involved in delivering the training themselves? Is their primary role reinforcement and coaching, or should they be doubling as a trainer?
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That's a really excellent question. Something that comes up a lot from clients. We believe the sales manager should have a very active role in the training and development of their teams. That said I'd kind of make three distinctions. I would look at (1) formalized training, (2) informal training and (3) personalized sales coaching.
The formalized training is really a sales training program which may be run over a couple of days, then go through some ongoing reinforcement, followed up by personalized coaching. The actual classroom component of that is probably best led to professional facilitators who can deliver that training. That said it's the best practice for the managers to attend. They can observe their people, join in the conversation, and get a good benchmark for where their sales professionals are at.
Once that training's delivered though, you have informal training and that can happen pretty frequently. It can be in the weekly or monthly sales meetings. You could pick a topic like overcoming difficult objections or if you have an initiative to drive new business, prospecting for new business. Or maybe doing a better job of presenting value so you're not kind of really stuck in the price trap, and that kind of informal training, group discussion, sharing of best practices, maybe even a little bit of role playing is really healthy for the sales meetings and what I would call informal training.
And then the most important role for the manager is really individualized or personalized sales coaching, and that's working with each sales person on two to three key skill areas that they can develop each quarter. And that should be a individualized plan where you've kind of collaborated with a sales person and say, "Hey, you know, over the next quarter, let's work maybe on identifying customer's priorities. Maybe doing a better job of presenting the value that we offer and maybe overcoming some difficult objections," and then based on those skills you would observe some sales calls, provide feedback and then as they improve you would reset the coaching plan.
So to recap we think managers should be involved extensively in training and development. When it comes to the formal classroom training, probably best left to training development professionals with the managers attending as they can. Informal training, a great role for the managers. A great way to get their team involved. Maybe even periodically have a member of their team kind of lead a session in something they're particularly good at, so you're actually starting to leverage the team's expertise. And then the personalized coaching probably the most important role for the manager in terms of ongoing skills development.
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About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.