It's a new year. "Don't train your sales force!" As strange as that sounds, it might surprise you how often this was my recommendation to business leaders looking for help last year for their sales organizations. But please don't misunderstand. Unless your sales force has a full pipeline, accurate forecasts, high closing ratios, improving margins, consistent revenue growth, and meets budget every quarter, they might need training. But that doesn't mean you should get them trained. For sales training to be effective, the conditions must support it, or it isn't worth the investment. Without knowing the underlying causes, the training could be indiscriminate and ineffective.
Recently, I posted an article listing the 7 Success Factors that support sales training. If interested, read it here. Today, we'll address number 4, below: Trainable and coachable sales managers. After all, why should it matter? If the manager is on her game, knows how to sell, and operates autonomously, is it really necessary that she be coachable and trainable, too? C'mon! Here's why.
7 Sales Training Success Factors
- Pre-evaluate the sales team, systems, and processes (Article published 10/8/18)
- Formal, staged, milestone-centric sales process (Article published 11/4/18)
- Trainable sales team (Article published 8/14/18)
- Trainable and Coachable Sales Managers (This article)
- (Article published 1/7/19)
- Training the managers before training salespeople (Coming soon)
- Salesperson training with sufficient time scale (Article published 9/23/18)
- Sales leadership accountability (Coming soon)
Number 4 is that sales managers themselves must be trainable and coachable. Mining the data from 1.8 million assessments of both salespeople and sales managers evaluated by Objective Management Group, we know that 22% of managers are uncoachable and 28% are untrainable. That means that almost one in four won't be able to make the changes necessary to improve their skills
Among many of the conditions or environment that support training success are the willingness and ability of sales management to support and reinforce the training to ensure that it sticks and that the team improves. It isn't always simply a matter of needing to make improvements, but rather it's having an organization structured and ready to capitalize on those improvements.
Most managers are interested in developing their skills further in important sales management areas such as motivation, coaching, recruiting, and holding people accountable. Understanding the common areas where sales management gets in their own way is a good start to mastering number 4, above, and clearing the way to effective sales training.
How sales management gets in the way:
- Not coachable - think they know it all, and won't listen to advice
- Not trainable - apathetic - do not desire success enough to work to improve
- Not skilled - want to succeed but don't know how
- Not committed - won't exceed their comfort zone to do what it takes to succeed
- Non-supportive beliefs - this covers a wide variety of beliefs but any belief that doesn't support either sales success or managerial impact on sales success would be in their way
- Too busy selling - Some sales managers are really glorified salespeople with a large book of business. Don't expect real sales management from this group.
- Non-Existent - What sales management? Do we need that? Haha. Sometimes, it's the CEO in an "acting" role.
Sales management is a full-time job. Sales managers must desire success in the role and be committed to doing what it takes to be effective in the role. If they are not coachable or if they are not trainable, or both, they will not be able to improve and will have a difficult time cultivating an environment that supports learning and improvement among their team.
Because there is often confusion with two important terms above, I have illustrated the difference between Untrainable and Uncoachable using pictures:
Untrainable people lack the desire to succeed. They won't try to improve. Uncoachable people might or might not be trainable - they are independent. The uncoachable cannot imagine that you or anyone else could help them perform better. They already know everything. If they are right and they do know everything, that's great until you try to implement a change. If they don't already know everything but think they do, or if they are no longer interested in improving in their role, welcome to a world of frustration for company leaders. And for goodness sake, don't train the sales team. Yet.
If you would like to know how your managers measure up in these important areas, click here.
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Top Photo: Copyright : Eric Isselee