You’ve just hired a top sales rep—one that shows real promise based on past results and seems to be a good fit for your team and your company. You’re probably feeling pretty good. And then the realization hits you—even a team full of great sales reps doesn’t guarantee that your team will excel. Hiring the best is a great place to start. But to continue to ensure excellence, other factors come into play.
After all, it is likely that your competitors are also hiring sales reps who have proven track records. So hiring the best is not really a competitive advantage, but just the first step. What comes next is critical—the continual development of your reps so they can excel and surpass their quotas and goals. After all, reps are human—and as humans, we need consistent reinforcement to help us remain (or attain) the top of our game. That is also true for sales managers. Sales reps tend to improve when their managers do.
Using a sports analogy, we have all heard stories of how top players get traded and don’t perform as expected with their new team. And the opposite has also happened…a minor player suddenly excels when brought on board with a different team. At least some of this is probably due to the coach—and a sales manager, you are the coach of your team of sales reps. You can inspire them to reach greater heights and continually challenge them to excel.
Great sales managers act as if they are an extension of the sales training department, for they are the ones that interact with and provide direction to the sales reps on a regular basis. By analyzing each individual’s sales results and observing them during field rides, the first line manager can easily identify which ones need extra coaching and training. And often, they are the ones who provide it.
In reality, most organizations concentrate their training resources on their new hires and sales reps, not on the skill development of their sales managers. This theory was confirmed by a study that Delta Point conducted in 2009 based on feedback from sales managers, sales/marketing/training leadership and senior leadership from 20 different pharmaceutical organizations, including 8 of the top 10 nationwide. Over 90% of all respondents agreed that it is the responsibility of the sales manager to improve their reps’ selling skills. Yet few (less than 1/3) of their organizations devoted any resources towards the manager’s skill development.
Now is likely the opportune time to inspire your team to greatness. Your team is probably looking to you as their manager to ensure they continue to be challenged and grow in their expertise as sales professionals. As I referenced in a recent blog, “When you’re green you are growing and when you are ripe you are rotting.” Don’t let your sales reps rot—provide that constant reinforcement and continue to sharpen the saw. The amount of time and resources you devote to this will likely reap major dividends by keeping those top reps the best. Sounds like a smart business decision to me.