What do you do when you’re tasked with supporting your company’s strategic objectives for revenue growth and improved sales performance?

Some organizations will focus on skills training for their sellers. But top-performing organizations know they must go beyond that and enable their sales managers to deliver the most impactful sales coaching.

Yet many organizations either don’t have a regular rhythm of sales coaching, only focus on deal coaching or put little emphasis on sales coaching. Sales managers are busy and have other priorities.

Leading coaching conversations masterfully — whether in one-on-one meetings with individual sellers or team sales meetings — is the hallmark of an effective sales manager.

How Do You Optimize Your Organization’s Sales Training Initiatives to Improve Sales Performance?

Don’t neglect training your sales managers. Ensure training initiatives address three key areas so you develop sales managers who can lead their teams to top performance.

1. Train Managers to Motivate Sellers for Productivity and Performance

There’s one very important manager capability that’s typically overlooked in sales management and coaching training.

In our recent global survey of more than 1,000 sellers and sales managers, we learned that while top-performing sales managers outperform others across the board in terms of sales management and coaching skills, the biggest gap between top performers and the rest is in the managers’ ability to motivate sellers to achieve high productivity and performance.

According to the survey, top performers — those who meet challenging annual goals and have the highest win rates — are 71% more likely to have a sales manager that excels here.

This motivational strength in managers translates to improved selling capabilities in sellers. In addition, those sellers who work for top-performing sales managers are significantly more likely to be stronger across each of the nine productivity behaviors studied.

Yet this is something most trainings don’t explicitly address, and it’s uncommon for managers to know exactly what to do to motivate their teams for high levels of productivity and sales performance.

In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, researchers measured the relative impact of four factors on salesperson motivation: task clarity, inner drive, compensation and sales management.

Which one had the largest effect on sales motivation? Task clarity.

Some sales coaches tell us, “But my team knows their quota and they have it broken down in various ways.” This may be true, but it almost always needs to be broken down further — into quarterly priorities, monthly objectives and a weekly action plan, so sellers truly know what’s expected from them. This is something that most sales managers find is just as helpful to do for themselves as it is for sellers.

That’s why it’s important to include skills development around goal setting and action planning, as well as a program that develops managers’ abilities to specifically coach around action planning and productivity behaviors.

2. Develop Managers’ Coaching and Conversation Capabilities

Top-performing sales managers are more skilled at leading coaching conversations to help sellers solve problems and challenges, win deals, lead masterful sales conversations and grow accounts.

Our research finds that top performers have significantly stronger coaching across the board. For example, top performers are more likely to strongly agree their manager excels at:

  • Coaching sellers to lead masterful sales conversations (1.5x).
  • Coaching sellers to grow accounts (1.5x).
  • Providing deal coaching to maximize wins (1.4x).
  • Coaching on virtual/remote selling (1.4x).
  • Leading valuable sales team meetings (1.4x).
  • Leading valuable one-on-one coaching meetings (1.4x).
  • Helping sellers build meaningful and achievable goals and action plans (1.4x).
  • Coaching sellers to build selling skills (1.4x).

While most sales coaching is focused on deal coaching, the data shows that coaching around specific skills is equally, and in some cases more, important.

3. Enable Managers to Deliver a Regular Ongoing Schedule of Coaching

Not only are their managers better skilled, but, according to our study, top performers are also 1.5x more likely to receive coaching on a regular, ongoing schedule. And they’re also more likely to devote more of their time to being coached each week compared to other sellers.

But it’s the combination of having an effective manager, along with regular coaching and effective training that is exceptionally powerful. Sellers who hit the trifecta here are 1.6x more likely to be top performers.

Deliver a Sales Management and Coaching Program that Results in Top Performance

Sales managers need to prioritize training and execute an impactful coaching program with sellers. Make sure your initiative addresses these key areas to achieve top performance:

  • Help managers motivate sellers for productivity and performance.
  • Develop managers’ coaching and conversation capabilities.
  • Enable managers to deliver a regular ongoing schedule of coaching.

Do these things well and you’ll optimize your organization’s training to develop sales managers and coaches who can lead their teams to top performance.