New sales enablement products and platforms seem to pop out of the woodwork every day. They all promise essentially the same things: that they will help sales reps articulate value, stay on message, close more deals and stick around longer.
But what about sales managers? In the marketplace as in the workplace, they can be a bit of an afterthought. Never mind the fact that sales managers must monitor goals and metrics, help reps hit targets, manage deadlines, and make sure reps are following the proper sales process. In addition, managers must put people over process and make time for things like coaching, mentoring, training and creating a positive team culture.
A great sales manager can be the difference between a high performing rep staying or going. They can also be the difference between an average performer moving forward, backward or walking out the door entirely.
With all that said, lets set the sales reps aside for at least one blog post. Let’s talk about strategies that will (pardon the hyperbole) supercharge your sales managers.
1. Get your training right
The training sales reps receive is much more likely be effective if sales managers reinforce it. But what if the training stinks to begin with? Many organizations spend time perfecting their competency models, then fail to provide training that is designed to optimize the learning experience and help reps actually perform those competencies.
If we expect sales managers to support and reinforce this training, we can make their jobs easier by making the training better.
2. Make it easy to spot knowledge gaps
Sales managers already have too much data to look at. The CRM is full of it and it can be hard to find the most meaningful metrics. When it comes to supporting the professional development of sales reps, there are far fewer metrics to pull. Most training only tracks completion, and most it can be hard to observe sales reps enough to see behavior change without coming off as Big Brother.
Make sure at least some of your sales enablement and training tools measure knowledge acquisition and retention. For example, the ability to see a specific learning objective that sales reps are struggling with can help managers provide support on the right topics to the right people.
3. Provide tools that enable coaching at scale
How many sales reps are your managers responsible for coaching? No matter what the number is, there are still only 24 hours in a day.
In the long run, coaching is more impactful and meaningful to sales reps than the training they will receive. Unfortunately, today’s spread out sales teams make coaching difficult. When considering what learning technologies to incorporate into your sales enablement program, make sure a virtual coaching tool and/or asynchronous video role play are on the list.
4. Automate processes and remove roadblocks
What do sales managers really want? How about one less portal to log into, or one less task to remember to do? Sometimes, trainers launch a new big idea that sounds good in theory but just creates a lot of work for managers in practice.
Wherever possible, look for ways to trim down the amount of steps it takes for managers to perform value-added tasks. For example, we recently added a feature to Knowledge Guru that allows managers to receive automated reports on their sales reps’ progress at regular intervals. This way, managers receive data on what their reps know and don’t know that they can use for coaching without having to go to an app or website to access it.