How Enablement Can Prepare Sales Managers for Success
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To be an effective sales manager means to always be learning and honing the skills of what it takes to be a good leader. An ideal manager doesn’t just appear out of thin air — they’ve been thoughtfully equipped and trained to lead a team of reps through the highs and lows of the sales cycle.
A recent survey by Challenger revealed that a resounding 85% of respondents believe that sales managers need the most assistance helping sellers identify unique perspectives for their customers. And 83% of respondents said that sales managers need help in crafting sales messages that spark customer attention. Where sales managers need the most support reveals the benefits of having enablement in place to ensure managers are continually learning and being trained regularly to understand their products, the sales strategy, and the content and resources their reps are using in day-to-day conversations.
“It’s not really about providing accurate forecasting reports to upper management or filling the pipeline,” said Kerry Campbell, head of cloud sales leadership development at Google. “True sales leadership is about supporting and enabling your people to shine and bring their best to work and everything that they do.”
Sales enablement can help develop and train new or seasoned sales managers by focusing on how to help managers mentor, coach, and inspire their teams to achieve success. By focusing on developing not only the technical skills required for being an optimal manager but also fostering the soft skills, like good communication and knowing how to offer constructive feedback, enablement teams can set sales managers up for success and lead their teams with confidence and excitement.
Equip Managers to Effectively Coach Their Teams
Not all sales skills are directly relatable or scalable when it comes to leadership needed for sales management. One of the key ways that training can benefit sales managers is by preparing them to be effective coaches.
“I think a lot of things that we can do as enablement practitioners is to provide our leaders with what you want them to be coaching on and how to do it, and then it’s much simpler for them to execute on,” said Steve Maxwell, vice president of revenue enablement at H20.ai.
Beyond learning the ins and outs of the product or understanding market sector changes that affect the buyer landscape, sales coaching equips reps with the tools needed to navigate various scenarios with buyers. Enablement teams can implement programs dedicated to providing coaching support for managers, such as best practices on time management, relationship building, and encouraging reps to think creatively in providing solutions to customers.
“Sales leaders should encourage a healthy sales culture by coaching their teams to lean into risks, demonstrating psychological safety, being consistent, being transparent, being a trustworthy leader, and showing up in a way where people can believe that you’re authentic and real and legit and can be trusted,” said Campbell.
The more personalized to the challenges or opportunities a manager is in coaching their reps, the better. Similarly, coaching support for managers can also be tailored to their unique scenarios, with enablement acting as a coach for the managers as well. For example, perhaps a new manager wants help in coaching a rep who was recently promoted from sales development to account management on how to effectively nurture an existing customer relationship. Enablement can help managers develop key questions to guide the rep’s learning and help them think creatively about how they can adjust their approach.
“The things that you want to coach on will always depend on the goals of the organization, and where that individual is in their journey,” said Maxwell. “I coach different people differently based on what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, or what projects they’re working on.”
Incorporate Peer-to-Peer Mentorship
One of the core components of any great sales leader is the ability to deliver constructive feedback to help reps grow and learn from their mistakes. For new managers, an effective sales manager training program can enlist the help of more experienced managers to provide honest feedback and tips on the manager-in-training’s performance. It can also be helpful to be specific in leveraging an experienced manager based on their strengths.
For example, one manager who is savvy when it comes to negotiation could participate in a role-playing exercise with the manager-in-training to offer real-time advice and answer questions for an array of scenarios.
Peer learning can also be a part of virtual training by having high-performing managers record videos or host “ask me anything” sessions to have the trainees ask specific questions related to their new roles and responsibilities.
“If you are self-aware and coachable and you are working with someone who is mentoring you, who is trying to develop you, you’re going to succeed so much more,” said Shannon Hempel, director of sales enablement at CommerceIQ. “If you are someone on the other end who is trying to develop somebody, then really hone in on those aspects that they can take with any conversation with anyone and not just in the specific job role they have.”
Establishing a mentorship component within a training program benefits new managers, but also encourages a culture of learning for the more experienced managers as well by giving them the opportunity to expand their leadership skills, reinforce their knowledge, and grow their confidence.
Training for sales managers is an ongoing process and by providing them with the tools and resources needed to support their teams consistently, enablement can become a true partner in the success of the sales teams they support. Effective sales management training prepares managers to look at the bigger picture of their team’s performance and shifts the mindset from being strictly results-oriented to connecting to the human side of sales as well.
“There’s an underlying spirit that connects a coach’s heart and mind to the conversation whereby you’re really in partnership with that person,” said Debra Flick, global enablement manager at Quantum. “You’re helping them to accept that there’s a need for change and having that compassion and helping them to evoke the change on their own,”
Developing and training new sales managers is an investment in the overall success of an organization’s revenue engine. Enablement teams can help recognize and fully realize the value comprehensive training offers to accelerate sales performance and grow the business.