The foundation for predictable and repeatable success is a formal sales process. In a recent study of B2B sales organizations, top performers were found to be 19% more likely to use a standardized methodology than laggards. But the statistics don't show what we have learned from our clients. Successful implementation of a sales process depends heavily on one key resource – the Sales Manager.
The CRM system is functionally managed by IT and business operations, the reports are analyzed and acted upon by senior sales leaders, and the day-to-day execution of the methodology is carried out by the sales force, but the glue is the first line sales manager.
The sales manager teaches the reps how to follow the process, coaches them to comply and improve, and enforces a common understanding of the stages and exit criteria, producing accurate and actionable information for senior leadership. Without the sales manager as the owner of the process, execution and results are certain to fall far short of targets. The risk of failure is extremely high.
If the sales manager is so vital to the sales process, how do sales organizations leverage this key resource? According to an Aberdeen Group report issued this week, 57% of the best-in-class organizations provide their managers with role-specific training, compared with only 44% for the average performers.
So, sales managers are responsible for implementing the sales process. What is the best way to equip them to be effective owners of this critical function? Our clients who have had the most success would point to these 10 key steps in designing a training curriculum for sales managers:
- Create a complete, modular curriculum, ready for deployment
- Start with a core of world-class content with detailed instructor's notes
- Customize the content for your organization, especially HR and CRM-specific information
- Lessons are self-contained, can be taught as needed, independent of the overall course
- Limit the lessons to 90 minute segments
- Keep a regular cadence; publish a workshop calendar 6 months in advance; bi-weekly workshops work best
- Include at least one hands-on exercise in each lesson using actual, current customer scenarios, job aids and/or CRM reports; assign pre-work
- Each module is taught by a First Line Manager with support from Learning &Development or Business Operations
- The instructing manager is selected based on expertise in the topic
- Share the workload. Challenge each manager to lead at least one workshop
Here is an example of a Sales Leadership curriculum overview.
This is an example of the details for the individual 90-minute lessons:
The key benefits of this approach are:
- You will grow a staff of Subject Matter Experts and they will be recognized as resources for other managers to tap after the workshop is over.
- It is easier to make a significant impact with the sales managers because the population is relatively small compared with training the entire sales force.
- Assigning veterans to lead the lessons engages them and allows them to add value. They already know the content. Don't exempt them, engage them.
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