Are your sales leaders armed with all the tools they need to succeed in the role?
The true answer may surprise you.
Nearly a third of companies don’t have any sort of formal onboarding or training process for sales reps, and that number is likely even worse for leadership positions.
Let’s outline a scenario: You’ve just hired a new sales leader in your organization.
The role has already been vacant too long, and you need them to hit the ground running, so you bring in a talented sales professional and leave them to their methods.
Over the next few months, you start to see issues in their team—not just from the new leader but also from their reports. Maybe their numbers are slipping, the culture is suffering, or communication is beginning to break down. Without proper sales leadership training, you’ll find all these issues and more taking over your salesforce like weeds taking root in a garden.
I’m a big fan of sales training in general, and sales leadership training is no exception—but not all sales training is created equal. How do you know you’re implementing the right training program for your team?
Let’s look at the five crucial elements of any sales leadership training program and some examples of training programs you might want to pursue for the leaders and emerging leaders on your team.
The Basics of Sales Leadership Training
Most sales leaders and sales managers get no training for their role, a critical role for any company that wants to grow and increase its net new revenue. While some are natural-born leaders, others need to develop their leadership over time. The lack of training and development makes it incredibly difficult for an untrained and underdeveloped sales leader to succeed, with the end result being poor results, even if the sales organization has good salespeople.
Sales leadership requires that the sales leader has processes for things like creating a vision and goals, how to help their sales force transform, how and what to communicate, how to make the decisions that improve results, and how to match the autonomy of the sales force with the accountability necessary to create net new revenue. Effective sales leaders also have to know how to coach and develop their sales force. Sales leaders are expected to lead without being given so much as a playbook.
Sales leadership training is different from training for sales reps. Every sales leader should participate in the training provided to their sales force so they can ensure the sales force changes the behaviors for the training to work. But the content of sales leadership training is completely different from sales training.
The biggest reason sales leaders are resistant to sales leadership training is because they don’t want to give up their time. Leading a sales force is difficult at best, and being successful means splitting your time between your team and the demands of your company. Sales leadership has to provide a high return on the investment of time for sales leaders to find it valuable.
You should seek a sales leadership training program that teaches the following:
1. Sales Leadership Mindset
It is incredibly important for sales leaders to have the right mindset. In a profession where your team wins and loses, it’s important that the sales leader is positive, optimistic, and that they provide an example of the mindset they want their team to emulate. But more important still, the leader needs to believe that everything is their fault, taking full accountability, another mindset that they install in their team. They also have to believe it is their responsibility to ensure their team succeeds, taking care of the people in their charge.
RELATED READ: Why Leaders Need to Teach, Develop, and Train Mindset
The major challenges in helping sales leaders improve their mindset include the same problem you experience when you try to improve anyone’s mindset. Each person comes with a set of beliefs that were built over many years and by experiences that shaped their view of the world and their place in it.
One example of a sales leadership training program that teaches this is Korn Ferry’s Leadership Development program.
2. Excellent Communication Practices
It’s important that sales leaders are excellent communicators. Whether the leader is communicating their values, their goals, or coaching an individual, great leadership is built on communication.
All leadership is a transfer of values, beliefs, goals, and the required actions, even if few leaders really understand the need for the unrelenting communication necessary to achieve their goals.
The difficulty in training sales leaders to communicate more effectively is the same difficulty in training salespeople, namely, they have to change their behaviors. They fear repeating themselves, even though that is a trait of good leaders.
One example of a sales leadership training program that teaches this is SalesGravy’s Situational Sales Coaching program.
3. Sales Coaching Skills
If you were to ask sales leaders why they don’t spend more time coaching their team, they will automatically respond that they don’t have time to coach. They struggle to do everything they need to do each week, and it’s easy to drop coaching your team for some other priority the company imposes on the sales leader.
There is no difficulty training sales leaders to coach the individuals on their team, but without an effective operating cadence and prioritizing the development of the sales force, coaching will not be a priority.
An example of a sales leadership training program that teaches this is Challenger Inc’s Coach for Success program.
4. Accountability for Self and Team
There is nothing more important than accountability when it comes to producing results. Most sales leaders have never been taught to hold their teams accountable for their results. Most of the time, sales leaders who have not been trained make suggestions when they should be providing strong leadership by ensuring the sales force does the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.
The difficulty of teaching and training accountability is helping sales leaders understand they can impose humane consequences instead of punishing their sales force, something that violates their values.
One example of a sales leadership training program that teaches this is Sandler’s Sales Management Training program.
5. Modern Sales Tactics
One of the reasons selling is growing more difficult is that most sales leaders pay too little attention to what has changed in our environment and how it impacts buyers. Because buyers don’t find the sales conversation helpful, progressive sales leaders have transformed their sales team’s overall approach, providing them with the strategies that work now.
The great difficulty in training sales leaders to improve the effectiveness of their sales force is that they were taught and trained to use an approach that has lost a great deal of its effectiveness.
The only sales leadership training program that teaches modern sales is my Sales Accelerator.
The leadership training you will find in the Sales Accelerator Development Platform provides all the training topics here and more. We take a comprehensive approach with real-world, tactical, and practical practices that sales leaders can immediately put to work.
Some of the topics covered in this program include:
- Vision and Goal Setting
- How to Transform Your Team
- Relentless Communication
- Leadership Styles and Choices
- Alignment and Strategy
- How to Hold Your Team Accountable
- How to Hire, Coach, and Develop a Sales Force
- How to Increase Effectiveness
- How to Forecast
- How to Coach Opportunities
- How to Execute a Cadence
- How to protect your Sales Force
The Best Sales Leadership Training For Your Team
Selecting the best sales leadership training for your organization comes down to more than just price and convenience.
Most sales training programs focus on legacy tactics that don’t work. If you teach these legacy tactics to your sales leaders, they will trickle down to the rest of the team, hurting team effectiveness on the whole.
You need sales managers armed with the right mindset, coaching skills, and modern sales techniques to lead your team to success.
Take our Sales Manager Challenge today to work one-on-one with a sales expert to identify the sales blockers you should be focusing your sales leadership training on.