Why sales management needs more investment from VPs [research]

For sales management, the 2017 CSO Insights Sales Manager Enablement Report contains an alarming statistic:

“Quota attainment has decreased from 63 percent in 2012 to 55.8 percent in 2016.”

Yikes. This is just one of many statistics that led the study’s researchers to a provocative conclusion: “Sales enablement is a growing trend, but sales performance is not improving.”

The purpose of sales management is to ensure each team hits quota. So, what’s missing here? You’ll have to read the report to find out. But we’ll give you a hint: One thing sales management needs is more investment and empowerment from their superiors.

(I’m looking at you, VP of Sales).

Here are nine insights from the report to help explain where and why VPs should focus more on enabling their sales management leaders.

9 sales management revelations every VP needs to understand

  1. “Year after year, our studies show the correlation between sales management skills and quota attainment. So, if sales managers are the key, why do so many enablement initiatives pay them so little attention? Furthermore, even if your sales managers received some training when they were first promoted, why should we assume that the skills they were taught carry forward to the roles they are expected to fulfill today?”
  2. “Our research shows that unless sales organizations invest in developing their sales managers, they have little to no chance of achieving even average sales performance for KPIs, including quota attainment, win rate, and revenue plan attainment.”
  3. “The sales managers’ goals can only be achieved through the performance of their sales teams. In fact, all managers can really manage are activities, budgets, processes, and other “things.” Salespeople require leadership and coaching to release their full potential. People cannot be managed; they must be led.”
  4. “High performing people, regardless of their role, focus on the intersection of what matters and what they can control. For the sales manager, that means managing the right activities and coaching the related behaviors (leading indicators) that lead to the desired results (lagging indicators).”
  5. “We are not saying there shouldn’t be a focus on sales results. What we are saying is that the sales manager needs to focus on how to achieve the desired results instead of focusing on measuring the results afterward.”
  6. “In a sales context, coaching is a leadership skill that draws out a salesperson’s full potential by getting them to focus on the activities and behaviors that lead to the desired results.”
  7. “The sales manager is the salesperson’s frame of reference. He or she directly impacts, ideally based on the sales strategy, what the salesperson sells, where they sell, how they sell, and to whom they sell.
  8. “Sales coaching is not asking things like, ‘What’s your forecast this month?’ or telling a salesperson, ‘You need to build more pipeline.’ Instead, effective sales coaches consider the salesperson’s personal goals, their individual style, and their current strengths and weaknesses before engaging in a dialogue.”
  9. “Almost 75% of sales organizations waste resources due to random and informal coaching approaches, and only about one-quarter leverage the huge performance potential of formal and dynamic coaching.”

There’s so much more to the Sales Manager Enablement Report, including how to assess your current sales manager maturity, how to design a holistic sales manager enablement program and how to leverage technology for ultimate sales manager effectiveness. Access the CSO Insights report here.

P.S. When you’re ready to empower your sales management team with research on choosing the most effective sales metrics for your salespeople, send them a copy of the 2017 Sales KPI Report.

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