Better Training for New Sales Managers Starts with the “3 Ts”

To help new front-line sales managers succeed in their roles, they need a structured transition that delivers the right training and ongoing support.

Planning sales strategies. Tracking sales goals. Conducting evaluations. Juggling administrative tasks. That’s just the start of a front-line sales manager’s to do list. It’s a challenging position for seasoned professionals, and for those new to the role, it can be overwhelming.

To help new front-line sales managers succeed in their roles, they need a structured transition that delivers the right training and ongoing support. That’s even more important as front-line sales managers oversee increasingly large, diverse, and geographically dispersed sales teams. 

Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have a customized transition process for sales managers in place—or any transition at all. More often than not, companies promote top sales reps to sales managers and tell them to hit the ground running. 

A recent study by Showpad revealed critical insight that organizations can use to reshape the training process for new front-line sales managers. Specifically, it found three key factors—let’s call them the three “T’s”—that help new front-line sales managers transition effectively to leadership roles:

1. Training

Managing a sales team requires unique skills, but many new front-line sales managers lack enough experience to develop that skill set. In fact, the survey revealed that 71 percent of front-line sales managers have less than five years of sales experience before being promoted to sales manager, and 30 percent spent only two or three years in sales before moving to management. 

Asked about the biggest challenges of transitioning from rep to manager, survey respondents highlighted insufficient training and lack of coaching. That’s where organizations have an opportunity to improve by investing in training programs that give front-line sales managers the right leadership skills. 

Takeaways:

  • Provide training to help new sales managers acclimate to their roles. 
  • Offer ongoing coaching to help sales managers continue to grow as leaders. 
  • Ensure continued support and guidance from upper management.

2. Tools

In today’s increasingly complex business environment, having the right tools to streamline processes and keep people connected is critical. That’s especially true for front-line sales managers who often oversee large, geographically dispersed, and diverse sales teams. Of the survey respondents, 46 percent lead teams with 11 or more employees and another 20 percent lead teams of 20 or more. 

Not only are today’s sales teams getting larger, they are more spread out than ever before. According to the survey, 79 percent of sales managers have at least one team member working remotely and 52 percent of respondents say that at least half of their team works remotely (and probably many more than that today in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic). Lack of face time and managing people who are often in different time zones makes training and coaching difficult for new sales managers.

Traditionally, companies overcame those challenges by having sales reps travel to trainings and sales kick-off meetings, but that’s costly and time consuming. Increasingly, companies are relying on digital platforms to bridge the miles between front-line sales managers and their remote team members. These digital tools can be especially helpful for new sales managers because they streamline access to training materials, consolidate sales collateral, and facilitate coaching at scale. 

Takeaways:

  • Use digital tools to help new sales managers train and coach their team members. 
  • Streamline access to sales materials and information with a digital platform. 

3. Time

What’s a front-line sales manager’s most important resource? Time. And most say they don’t have enough of it to do their jobs properly. On average, survey respondents said they spend 21  percent of each work week managing employees and another 19 percent on meetings and administrative duties. Add in customer service, special projects, and other tasks, and it’s not surprising that new sales managers say they don’t have enough time to train and acclimate to their new role. The challenge is compounded by the need to train their team members. Notably, 34 percent of front-line sales managers say they don’t have enough time to properly coach their teams. 

Digital tools to the rescue—again. They automate time-consuming administrative tasks and streamline processes, freeing up front-line sales managers to focus on more valuable work such as revenue building and training their teams. 

Takeaways:

  • Allow enough time for new sales managers to acclimate to their roles. 
  • Use digital tools to reduce time-consuming, administrative tasks.

Paul Saleme is head of Sales Enablement at Showpad. He builds the onboarding, training, and continuous learning programs for all Showpad’s Go-to-Market teams. Saleme has a proven background in leading Sales Enablement organizations to help increase sales teams’ productivity through collaboration. Throughout his career, he’s developed innovative enablement solutions aligned with strategic business initiatives that accelerate bottom-line results. Prior to joining Showpad, Saleme was the director of Sales Enablement at MapR Technologies and held various enablement positions at Sun Microsystems.

 

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