If your most senior sales manager left unexpectedly, how long would it take your team to fill the role?
In the face of the Great Resignation, that hypothetical has become a reality for thousands of companies.
Let’s take a second to imagine the scenario we just laid out is real for your business. If you found your team faced with gaps in crucial roles, what’s your best bet in filling them?
Many companies are offering sign-on bonuses and other hiring perks. However, in the face of unexpected turnover, your best bet isn’t pouring more dollars into recruitment—it’s exploring a sales leadership development program.
Let’s look at how you can find the best sales leadership development program for your business and create a pipeline of emerging leaders in your salesforce.
Sales Leadership Development Program: What’s Included?
Before we discuss how to find the best sales leadership development program for your business, let’s dive a little deeper into what is generally included in this type of program.
A sales leadership development program should include five major elements:
- Effectiveness: If there is one area where sales leaders need more development, it is increasing the overall effectiveness of their sales force. Yet, it’s impossible to find leadership training that includes (let alone prioritizes) the effectiveness of the sales force.
- Coaching: A good coaching framework is critical to helping the sales force improve its effectiveness. The best of these will provide a structure for directive and non-directive approaches. It is a mistake to use only non-directive approaches when you have less experienced salespeople who need more direction.
- Change Mindset: Every sales leader manages a transformation, as they are required to grow revenue yearly. If the sales force were already capable of delivering the new goal, they would have already done so. This means something (or several things) will need to change. This constant change requires the leader to create an agile sales force.
- Communication: Most sales leaders have not been taught how important it is to communicate with their teams. Even the best communicator, one that rivals Winston Churchill, will have trouble getting the right things done, at the right time, in the right way because they communicate what they want once or twice instead of relentlessly communicating what’s important.
- Accountability: The foundation of a high-performing sales organization is a positive culture of accountability. Young sales leaders often make the mistake of making “suggestions” about what their team should do. Without a framework of assigning outcomes and holding their team accountable, they will be unlikely to reach their goals, let alone reach their full potential.
Your development program may include additional sales leadership skills: vision, leadership styles, decision-making, forecasts, opportunities, protecting your sales force, and more.
Every leader needs training to acquire the fundamentals and the frameworks that provide structure for a role that is often nebulous due to the many competencies and character traits needed to succeed. They also need development, whether a coach, a mentor, or a senior leader.
RELATED READ: The Difference Between Training and Development
Select Sales Leadership Development Candidates
Every sales manager is a sales leader. This truth means the better their leadership, the better their results.
A new sales manager will produce results faster with training and development. But it is a mistake to leave out sales leaders who have been in the role for a long time. In training, the veteran leaders are often grateful to be reminded of things they stopped doing and new approaches to age-old challenges of leading a sales force.
Any sales organization that wants to improve its results would do well to improve and upskill its sales managers and sales leaders. Because many sales managers were never trained, you acquire a distinct advantage by providing your sales force the strong leadership that ensures they succeed.
The best thing you can ever do for a new sales manager or sales leader is to invest in their development. The foundations are critical to success.
Determine Desired Outcomes
A strong and effective sales training program will cover many subjects, including:
1.) Creating a vision
3.) Communication strategies, occupying different leadership styles
4.) Making Decisions
5.) Strategy and alignment with the company’s goals
7.) Structures of Accountability
10.) Managing Opportunities
12.) Protecting the sales force
13.) Building their Cadence
Much of what sales leaders want in training is practical, tactical strategies for the many and varied conversations they need to have with their teams or individuals. They also want training on solving the problems that prevent net new revenue growth.
You won’t be able to address every challenge in a single training, so you must prioritize what’s most important by identifying the gaps that prevent your sales leaders from producing better results through their team.
Examine Training Programs
Start by researching training programs and exploring the contents contained. If you have a good sense of what gaps you need to close, make sure the training will be helpful for your sales manager and leaders. You should also explore the approach the training company uses and whether or not they have a structure that enables the leadership competencies your team needs.
Various training programs will have different focuses. Some trainings are more around coaching, while others are much broader in scope. Even though we tackle different leadership concepts individually, we believe it’s best to develop sales leaders with comprehensive leadership training over time.
Options for Great Programs:
- The focus of my Sales Accelerator is providing a complete leadership development platform with projects, video courses, live virtual training, and live training. It covers the 13 outcomes above.
- My friend, Jeb Blount, has an outstanding program on situational sales coaching.
- Mike Weinberg, another close friend, his Sales Management Simplified is an excellent program.
The Secret Sauce: Customizable Programs
One of the challenges of training sales leaders is that different people need different content and frameworks at different times. We use the online course to allow every sales leader to acquire the training they need, even though they are part of a cohort. The variety of courses makes it possible to solve leadership problems as they arise.
You can achieve solid training in a live seminar or training, but development requires more time and a series of projects that transfers the competency the sales leader needs to succeed.
We don’t love the one-size-fits-all approach because of a training we attended on coaching. The trainer was teaching non-directive coaching and a large number of leaders had newly hired salespeople. It was ineffective because asking a salesperson who lacks experience what they believed they should do. Some coaching requires something closer to training.
Check the Numbers
The last thing you’ll want to do when picking a sales leadership development program is to check the numbers. Consider program pricing and your budget. Armed with this information, weigh the pros and cons of your purchasing decision. Ask questions like: How valuable are sales leaders to your org? How much can a talented sales leader bring in through the door?
You should also take this opportunity to consider reviews and ask for references if you need to assess if the training will work for you and your team. Lastly, ensure you are aligned with the person and company that created the training program.
Getting the Most From Your Sales Leadership Development Program
These five steps will help you select the best sales leadership development program for your business. Now, you just need to ensure you get the most from whatever program you pursue.
The best advice for getting the most out of your t
raining and development is to ensure your team makes the behavioral changes necessary to apply the training. Behavioral changes are what produce net new revenue growth. You should also choose a training program that is ongoing, allowing your team the time and attention they need to develop into great sales leaders.
Before you can get the most from your development program, you’ll need to understand what type of training you and your team need. To see where your team’s weak points are and learn how you can address them with proper training, take my Sales Manager Challenge today!