How to Build Future Sales Leaders

March 22, 2013 at 7:01 AM

This post is about developing Sales Leadership. In particular, the front-line Sales Manager - a critical role responsible for marshaling a team of revenue makers.  This post includes a downloadable Sales Leader Curriculum. This tool is perfect for HR Business Partners who serve the Sales function. It will help to prevent vacant Sales Management positions.

Sales Manager Training curriculumYou can see the importance of the Sales Manager (SM) from a story.  A client engaged us to assess their Sales Force.  We recommended: 1) enable their SMs and 2) implement a Sales Process. Taking the “easy” route, they decided to do Sales Process and Rep training first. Unfortunately, the implementation failed because the SMs were not trained on change management. This left a gap supporting the Sales Reps in adopting the process. 

Change management is just one skill SMs must know. Current front-line SMs needs wide training to do their job effectively.  In "Predictions for 2013" by Bersin, enabling managers is a must have: "Today, business leaders want their HR teams to help to drive the business by empowering and enabling managers to operate more effectively." The report also talks about a focus on development and change management, et al. 

We've made available for download our base of Sales Leader Curriculum.  This curriculum has 40 different training modules. This is training your SMs need to know for today's complex and social selling.  The modules are grouped into 4 categories.  Each module contains multiple lessons (included in the tool, but not shown below). Here are some examples from each category. 

1. Sales Leadership

Module 2: Demonstrating Business Acumen - Applying a strategic approach to understanding the customer, analyzing financial statements and executive comments, and learning how to identify customer goals & priorities.

2. Selling Skills

Module 16: Insight Generation and Value Provision - Creating a Rep mindset that provides value in all interactions and approaches opportunities with the idea of caring for the customer's issues first; enabling Reps to generate customer-valued Insight.

3. Sales Management

Module 24: Performing Your Role in the Sales Process - Addresses all requirements of the sales manager as a participant in the sales process (sales calls, presentation review, proposal development, etc.)  

4. Talent Management and Development

Module 33: Developing Future Leaders - Recognize future leadership talent, assign developmental activities, and ensure proper attention is given to future sale leaders to prepare them for a future leadership position.

Please note that these modules are only the starting point - we customize our Sales Manager training for each client. Also note that we design each module with a number of elements:

  • Pre-work
  • Post-work
  • Courseware content
  • Quizzes/assessments
  • Enablement tool
  • Instructors notes
  • Interactive Exercises
  • Reading material for further exploration
  • Video component

Of course, having the curriculum and courseware is not all. You will need to devise a delivery program.  We often use a certification program with multiple levels (for example, Silver, Gold, Platinum.) Each level has increasingly more advanced training. For example, the Silver program may consist of only the first 15 modules.  Alternatively, each lesson in a module may be for a different level of the certification program.

The delivery program can span months or even years.  It gives SMs a way to advance their own effectiveness while developing themselves for promotion. This is a way to build a virtual bench for higher levels of Sales Leadership. Make sure you enable tracking via a Learning Management System (LMS.) 

Your Next Steps 

  1. Download the Sales Leadership Curriculum.  It contains 25 of the 40 module descriptions.
  2. Contact Matt Sharrers or me to discuss your Sales Leader training needs.  We will provide you the other 15 module descriptions.
  3. Design your Sales Leader training program.
  4. Start developing your Sales Leaders starting with your Sales Managers.
  5. Let us know how it goes.

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Topics: Talent Management, Sales Training, Sales Management, Human Resources, Sales Leadership, Leadership Development

Posted by Steve Loftness

Steve Loftness
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