Is Sales Management to Blame for Decreased Productivity?

Sales Management Productivity Statistics

Sales managers aren’t spending much time managing their reps, and most of those reps aren’t hitting quota. This begs the question: Is sales management really effective? Do we even need sales managers anymore?

When addressing the state of sales productivity, it’s important to note that the typical sales manager only spends 32 percent of the work day managing people, according to data from Ohio University researcher Dr. Adam Rapp. And research from Vantage Point Performance found that half of all sales managers surveyed only had 48 percent of their reps achieving quota.

is sales management extinct?

Perhaps the sales productivity stats have answered our initial question.

However, let’s not jump to conclusions. To find out, we asked a few industry professionals and researched what people were already saying on places like Quora. Here’s what we found:

Demand for a New Set of Sales Management Skills

Emeline Gleitz, Inbound Marketing Strategist at  Prima Ressource Inc.

“The whole world of sales and sales management is undergoing a major shift.

Since the internet has completely disrupted the purchase cycle from consumers to B2B buyers, there is an urgent need for sales forces to adjust.

Buyers used to call on vendors because they needed more information. Now it is the opposite. Buyers have all the information: They compare, and they price shop.

To be able to work around these new behaviors and attract customers, salespeople and, therefore, sales managers have to bridge a skill gap: from transactional selling to consultative selling. We are seeing more and more companies hire sales managers to help sales reps deal with the new breed of buyers and so-called inbound leads that come in through websites.”

Sales Management Needs to Lead Better

Adam Morris, President of West Coast Careers:

“As long as human beings are required to conduct business on behalf of an organization, another human being is going to lead and serve them.

Leadership today is about service: It’s about helping the people who are helping your customers. So, in a way, every member of an organization is either helping a customer or helping someone who does.

Technology has certainly changed the way we engage our constituents, but technology in sales has really manifested itself in the form of CRMs, marketing programs and information databases. We are a long way from robots conducting sales for us.”

Sales Managers Wear Too Many Hats

Ali Mirza, President of Rose Garden Consulting

“Sales managers ARE becoming extinct… But not fast enough.

The reason is not technology. In fact, with more technology, you actually need more people to ensure the use of the tech and the interpretation of the data … and then someone to create the change and implement it.

The reason why more and more companies are having growing frustration with their sales managers is mainly due to the fact that the position was flawed from the beginning.

The role has taken the duties and rolled it into one:

  • Sales Manager
  • Sales Trainer
  • Sales Coach

You cannot expect all three roles to be filled by one person, especially when all three require different personalities and skill sets.”

Interpersonal Skills Need Development

Jonathan Whistman, Senior Partner at Elevate Human Potential:

“Great Question! And if you’ve been a sales manager you understand how difficult it can be to get salespeople to use the technology provided even a simple CRM. It is important that the sales manager becomes a source of helping their reps understand and leverage the tech in an appropriate way.

Additionally, the key role of the sales manager is one of a coach and mentor. Technology can never replace that intimate conversation after a rough week selling that helps reorient the salesperson’s ego and self-worth in a way that helps them return to effective selling behaviors.

I would maintain that the role of sales manager has become even more important as a new generation of salespeople enters the workforce who are very adept at technology but may need some development in the art of human dynamics and interactions. They need help reading the body-language cues and personality styles of the buyers and adapting their approach for maximum effectiveness.”

The Argument for Better Sales Management

Since the answers about the fate of sales management vary, let’s return to data.

The study from Vantage Point also assessed managers by sales team performance:

  • The bottom 25% of sales managers perform at 76% of their target.
  • The middle 50% of sales managers perform at 99% of their target.
  • The top 25% of sales managers perform at 115% of their target.

Better sales management leads to higher goal achievement. “Cracking the Sales Management Code” authors Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana provide an analogy in their book to explain why:

Salespeople may be the foot soldiers out fighting the war, but sales managers are the ones equipping them for battle and giving them their marching orders. And an unprepared soldier doesn’t stand a fighting chance against a worthy adversary.”

Jason and Michelle argue that better sales management comes from training. Data from 213 companies surveyed by Vantage Point and the Sales Management Association reveals that sales management training is directly correlated to overall performance: Companies who allocate 25-50 percent of their overall sales training budget toward management outperform their goal by 6 percent, and those who allocate more than 50 percent outperform by 15 percent.

We don’t need less sales management. We need better sales management and research tells us that sales management training is the key.

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