Sales manager is one tough beat. Contrary to what most people think, being good at sales isn’t a surefire sign you’ll make a good sales manager.
And yet, time and time again, sales managers get promoted from top-performing reps, and are expected to know how to be a sales manager on day 1. After all, they were crushing quota just last week, right?
The problem, of course, is that the skills needed to play a game are very different from the skills needed to coach a game. And as a sales manager, your role is ultimately to give your team the tools they need to be effective sellers.
But how do you learn to do that?
Today, we’re diving into 4 things you can do today to become the sales manager you need to be.
Welcome to the quick and dirty sales manager training guide.
Step 1: be prepared
The first step of sales manager training is that you need to know your stuff. How will you be an effective teacher for your team if you don’t walk the walk? Do your research and prepare to give your employees a better learning experience. There’s a lot of prep work that goes into planning a training session but your ROI will speak for itself once your sales team starts increasing revenue.
Sales manager training how-to
- Find a mentor. A mentor who’s been there can give you all kinds of tips to help you learn and quickly overcome problems. Basically, a mentor means that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you need to do something new.
- Read up on your training models. Sales manager training is all about training the trainer. So in this case, training yourself. Read what smarter people have already mapped out and what works, and then go from there.
Step 2: Break it Down
Sales manager training step 2: break it down. While it might be appealing to organize and run one big training session that covers a range of topics, resist the temptation to do.
Instead, schedule a number of short but frequent training opportunities. Break down your sales training into manageable chunks for your team. Adopting microlearning as a best practice and teaching one skill at a time will give your employees a chance to “get it” and put it into practice before taking on the next skill.
As a customer recently put it: “everyone’s a kid when they’re learning, so you need to tell them the same thing 7 times.”
With that in mind, you need to give you team multiple opportunities to learn the same skills to get them to stick. It’s not enough to just say “ok, here’s everything you need to know.”
You need to break it into bite-sized pieces so that your team can easily consume it.
Sales manager training how-to
- Break your biggest lessons into smaller pieces. It’ll make it easier to deliver, easier to consume, and easier to remember.
- Deliver the same message multiple times in multiple formats. Try and teach the same point multiple times in different ways so that everyone, no matter how they learn, will retain the information they need to.
Step 3: Teach what your team wants to learn
There’s no point in teaching something that your team already knows, or something that they don’t think there’s value in. For instance, if you have a team of seasoned reps, your training shouldn’t focus on tactical stuff like how to write a cold email or phone etiquette.
It should focus on areas where your reps think they’re weak, perhaps in negotiating, closing, building rapport, or navigating internal organizations.
There are three ways to find out what to teach.
First, ask them. In person, in 1:1s, or en-mass via a survey will get you enough information to draw out trends and make a teaching plan.
Second, with data. Ask questions like:
- What stage of the sales process has the weakest conversion point?
- Are there top of funnel inefficiencies you can close with training?
- Where does your team stack up compared to industry standard for your ACV?
The final way is to look to your executive team. What are the strategic goals of the business, and how can sales help you achieve them? Maybe it’s a land grab, and the priority is deal velocity. Or maybe it’s to push a specific product line. Find out what they want up the chain, and work to tailor your training so that your sales team is ready.
Sales manager training how-to
- Ask your reps what they want to learn. Surveys, in-person will pull out trends
- Find specific pains in your data. Where in the sales process is your conversion weakest, and what training can you deploy to change it?
- Talk to your senior leadership. See what they want to achieve, and design a sales training program that can help.
Step 4: Make it Interactive
Interactive training sessions will improve how well your team retains the information you give them.
You don’t want your sales representative training to be a snore fest do you, with reps zoning out during your sales skills training sessions? This is easily avoided when you make training interactive. Get your sales team to chime in, participate, and engage with your session and you’ll see far better results.
Practice asking scenario-based questions or include role playing to encourage participation. Another strategy is to provide opportunities for your team to work together and bounce ideas off each other. They can learn from each other while they are learning from you!
Sales manager training summary
- Be prepared. Your team will both respect you more and you’ll get better results if you’re ready for their questions.
- Break down complex topics into bite-sized chunks. It’ll make your training that much more effective.
- Work in different styles and formats, so no matter how someone likes to learn, you’ve got some training for them.
- Ask your team what they want to learn.
- Use data and ask your senior leadership what’s important to hyper-focus your training to where it’s going to have the largest impact.
- Make your training interactive. It’ll go a long way to keeping your team engaged.