- Compared to the reps they lead, first-line sales managers often receive significantly fewer opportunities to develop competencies specific to their role
- Ad hoc and reactive sales manager enablement leads to inconsistent results and processes that lack scalability and repeatability
- A lack of effective sales manager enablement drives away high-performing managers and their best reps
Why should you have a sales enablement manager playbook? Great players don’t always make great managers. B2B sales leaders, unfortunately, too often fail to understand this dynamic, and thus miss a crucial opportunity to grow and develop the best sales talent from within.
SiriusDecisions research bears this assertion out. Results from our surveys tell us that, among high-performing individual sales contributors, 87 percent say that their perceived direct manager’s competency is a top decision driver when they consider new job. However, only 55 percent of high-performing managers say they received adequate training for their role. This disconnect explains case for why organizations should be formally enabling first-line sales managers. Let’s look at the “how.”
A sales manager enablement playbook – not the playbook managers use to coach their teams, but the guidance for the sales enablement function to support first-line sales managers – should include three major components:
- Core activities. What should your sales managers be doing with their time? Our research uncovers an enormous disconnect between how high-performing first-line sales managers spend their time and how they prefer to spend it. They’d like to spend it on direct rep engagement (e.g. attending calls, coaching, account planning). But their actual time tends to be consumed by recruiting, reporting and handling customer satisfaction issues. Action item: Conduct your own audit of managers’ time expenditures, focusing on the strongest performers, and pivot their daily activity emphasis from actual to preferred. (Note: We can do this audit for you!)
- Competency map. What are the skills, knowledge and process expertise required for your first-line sales managers to be good or great at their jobs? Each manager job type has different activities that are mapped to competencies. What do they need to know? What do they need to do? How do they learn to do it? Action item: Working backward from the core activities that first-line sales managers should be doing, determine the competencies required to be good or great in the role – then be sure you either hire or train to these minimum standards.
- Enablement continuum. For the competencies that need to be taught, what does the learning activity look like? This is where our Sales Onboarding Execution Framework, often used to provide rep-level learning, applies equally to first-line sales managers enablement.
There are four sequential action items that apply to the enablement continuum:
- Define program objectives on the basis of organizational need and learning outcomes built on competencies.
- Design certification materials and a learning structure before development.
- Develop the learning opportunities using a consistent process aligned to program objectives.
- Deploy the continuum according to a launch plan and identify training for further reinforcement.
The action items above ensure that if you determine what activities define first-line sales manager success, clarify the competencies required for strong execution, and build a scalable continuum for learning delivery, you will develop a world-class sales manager enablement playbook. Are you ready and willing to follow through and reward your organization with one?