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Are you doing everything you can to hit your goals? If you’re not budgeting adequately for sales manager training, you might not be. Companies that allocate more than fifty percent of the overall sales training budget toward management training outperform their goal by fifteen percent.

If you want to crush your sales targets, align your teams, and make a real impact on your bottom line, you need to train sales managers.

Think of the pressure your sales managers are under to hit goals. Do you want a manager who picks up the slack for their team? Or relies on two or three members of their team instead of the whole team?

Or do you want a sales manager that knows when and how to delegate and direct successfully? This manager helps all of their reps perform better and drives consistent performance.

In this post, I give you eight tips that will help you shape great sales leaders, so you can focus on the more crucial aspects of your job as the leader of your company.

Sales Manager Training: Level-up Team Performance

Before we get into the details, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about a few baseline items. First, what is sales manager training? Sales leadership training is specifically designed to hone both advanced sales skills and leadership skills. You should provide this type of training both to current sales managers and potential future leaders in your sales force.

Why do you need to explore training specifically geared toward sales managers? Simple: Your sales managers set the tone—and the pace—for your entire sales team. 

Your sales managers are responsible for providing strong direction to their teams, leading by example, and coaching the sales professionals within your organization. These responsibilities require skill sets not found in a standard sales training curriculum.  With these skills, your sales managers can work to develop and coach a sales force capable of smashing even the most ambitious targets. 

Related Read: 8 Types of Sales Training Courses That Actually Work

Without the proper training, your sales managers may struggle to help their team become more effective, resulting in missed opportunities and unmet goals. But when you provide managers with training specific to the skills and competencies they need to succeed, you’ll set them up to lead your team to victory. 

What are A Sales Manager’s Biggest Challenges?

Like any other role, being a sales manager comes with unique challenges. Whether they’re brand new to the role or seasoned leaders, your sales managers will face challenges related to engagement, employee development, and sales rep effectiveness. 

Every sales rep in your organization needs to embrace a modern approach to sales, but it’s the sales manager’s job to inspire and encourage that change. Sales managers must have vision—they should be able to see high-level goals and understand the strategies and tactics they need to use to help your organization reach them. 

As the party who is ultimately responsible for their team’s performance, a sales manager also shoulders challenges that impact the entire team. Challenges like difficult forecasting and poor pipelines fall to managers to solve. 

Related Read: 8 Ways You Can Improve Your Sales Forecast

Sales managers must find the right people, help them grow through training and development, and provide them with the support and motivation they need. They must accomplish all of this while also fielding demands from their leadership. All in all, it is a challenging position and one that requires specialized and consistent training.

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Develop the Skills A Sales Manager Needs

Tip #1: Identifying and Recruiting Sales Reps 

The first skill you need to train and develop in your sales managers is identifying, recruiting, and fostering skills for new sales reps. Sales managers must be able to build their “dream team” of reps to succeed. 

Sales managers need to understand how to spot and incentivize new talent. They’ll use these skills to add assets to your team in areas where the team is lacking or to replace reps who have left the organization or moved into other roles. 

Related Read: Five Reasons to Hire Top Sales Talent

You can use a few different methods to train sales managers’ recruitment skills. One of the simplest methods is to allow them to shadow on job interviews. Have potential sales managers sit in on interviews with more seasoned managers or HR professionals to see what they should look for in new sales reps. 

What should a sales manager look for in a candidate? Strong sales managers look for:

  • Real-world results
  • Mindset and character
  • Preparation
  • Cultural fit

Tip #2: Train Them to be a Leader

Aside from building your team, your sales manager should be able to lead the team with confidence. Managers need to be able to empower and motivate their teams while also holding members accountable. 

These traits are inherent in some leaders, but they can be taught and fostered if they’re not already present. 

Essentially, it’s a sales manager’s job to help each member of the sales team be successful. 

How can you train someone to be a leader? Give them opportunities to lead.

Potential managers should have access to situations and opportunities where they’ll get a chance to lead others. Some examples:

  • Mentoring another sales rep
  • Giving them the opportunity to lead a project or initiative
  • Giving them a chance to delegate responsibilities

Managers need to be able to delegate while still holding others accountable. Giving potential future leaders the chance to test out their skills in this area will help ease their transition into a management role in the future. 

Tip #3: Develop Interpersonal Skills

The last major skill every sales manager needs is the ability to develop and foster interpersonal relationships. Communication skills are the foundational skills in any manager’s toolbox. Managers need to communicate clearly so they can collaborate with, set expectations for, and listen to their employees. 

Two of the most important interpersonal skills every sales manager needs are active listening and conflict resolution. Understanding these skills will help a manager communicate with employees and find common ground in a workplace disagreement or tense situation. 

Training soft skills is notoriously challenging, but it is possible! The best way to train interpersonal skills is to use simulations or role-playing exercises to place managers in a real-world situation. Trainers can then observe those managers’ behaviors in real-time.

The benefit of this method of training for soft skills is that, instead of asking a candidate what they would do, you can place them in the situation and see what they actually do. This method also enables a trainer to give immediate feedback, catching bad habits before they form and correcting any behavior that needs adjustment.

Training Beyond the Basics

All sales managers need to develop those three baseline skill sets to lead their teams effectively. But those skills aren’t the only ones your managers need. Let’s look at five hard skills every sales manager needs to master. 

Tip #4: Forecasting Sales Results

Every sales manager needs the ability to give the team direction and be specific about expected results. This skill is about more than just setting arbitrary goals. To succeed in this area, a sales leader must know how to determine reasonable—but ambitious—targets. 

Enter: forecasting.

Forecasting and setting targets for the sales team’s results is essential for numerous reasons, but one of the most tangible is the fact that upper-level leadership in the organization will need proof your team can perform consistently. Setting realistic targets based on accurate forecasting will help to show those results. 

Forecasting is all about metrics

Sales managers should understand the metrics they need to track, then learn to leverage those metrics to create multivariable forecasts.

Tip #5: Taking Control of Sales Plans

Sales managers need to manage more than people—they need to manage sales plans for the entire team. That is why the fifth skill you must train in sales managers is the ability to define and implement sales plans.

Managers need to be able to develop strategies to improve team performance. This involves everything from analyzing data to presenting that information to their team in a strategic manner, to booking and leading sales meetings. 

Related Read: Three Strategies to Improve Your Sales Process

An effective sales manager must also be able to present sales plans to higher-level leaders in the organization. 

Help new or upcoming sales managers understand and develop processes. Sales managers should also be engaged with writing and teaching sales scripts and call templates to their sales reps. 

Sales managers also must understand that training is not a “one-and-done” process. Ongoing training is essential, both for managers and their sales reps, to ensure that the team is always engaging in modern, effective sales tactics and techniques.

Tip #6: Teach Sales Managers Accountability

Setting ambitious, realistic targets isn’t effective if managers aren’t holding their teams accountable to meeting those targets. As a result, holding reps accountable is a skill every sales manager needs. 

Sales managers should be skilled in offering constructive criticism to help reps grow, and mentoring reps when they are struggling to reach a target. 

Remember: holding reps accountable is about more than just looking at the numbers. An effective manager needs to understand the “why” behind the numbers. Why did you succeed or fail? Why is one rep performing better than another?

Tip #7: Personalize Training For Sales Managers

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sales training shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. This statement is just as true for sales managers as it is for individual reps. 

Every sales manager has different strengths and challenges. Help each manager strike a balance between learning new skills without losing sight of their existing strengths. Managers should understand how to delegate all things—including training. Managers should be able to direct team members to head up certain initiatives rather than trying to be the knowledge leader in all things.

Remember that everyone learns differently. Consider the most effective way to train each potential leader rather than offering cloned training for every manager in your organization.

Tip #8: Learning is an Ongoing Process

The last thing every sales manager needs to know is that learning is an ongoing process. Sales managers should create a culture of learning and training in their organization, both for themselves and their teams.

Encourage your sales managers to not only serve as mentors for their teams, but to find mentors of their own, either inside your organization or externally. 

Related Read: The 5 Best Sales Training Programs for High-Growth Teams

The sales industry is constantly changing and shifting, so managers should consistently be on top of new training opportunities, ensuring that their team’s skills remain sharp and relevant.

Sales Manager Training: Take a Modern Approach

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to crush your sales manager training and develop strong, engaged sales leaders in your organization. Remember, when you’re considering sales training, you need to take a modern approach rather than training legacy tactics that don’t work in the current market. 

In short, you need sales managers armed with the right mindset, coaching skills, and modern sales techniques to lead your team to success.

My Sales Accelerator program covers all the things your sales managers need to succeed. The program offers courses on: 

  • Vision and Goal Setting
  • How to Transform Your Team
  • Relentless Communication
  • Leadership Styles and Choices
  • Decision-making
  • 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

To get your sales managers ready to lead your sales team to victory, check out my Sales Accelerator today! 


Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 19, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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