Sales enablement best practices, #4 – Manager enablement
Okay. This is not completely scientific, but what I am about to say is based on actual research and years of observation.
The most common word you will hear a sales manager say is “help.”
The research says:
- Over and over, sales managers receive less training than they need (CSO Insights, 2018; Allego, 2019)
- Coaching technology is woefully inadequate – and even missing – for over 90% of sales managers (Allego, 2019)
- The most supported service that sales managers receive is “analytics and metrics” – and that is barely over half of the managers out there (CSO Insights, 2018)
My observation says:
- Sales managers often weren’t promoted for their sales manager abilities; they were promoted because they were great sellers
- Sales enablement has over-rotated to just one role – the frontline seller (sales managers are often left to create their own solutions for strategic planning, recruiting, driving high-performance, leadership skills, etc.)
And my own experience says:
- When I get extra busy, I never have enough time to truly oversee what is being done
- I can still find myself getting sucked into prioritizing based just on what is screaming loudest (and I know better)
I believe with all of my heart that the best enablement that we can provide to sellers is a great manager. And I am going to guess that you agree with me. So, why don’t we see more being invested in sales managers? Why do managers constantly ask for help as they pursue the never-ending quest of trying to help their own teams?
Honestly, I don’t have a great answer. It boils down to the leadership of the organization seeing that helping managers is a priority over all of the other stuff. And that is a discussion about beliefs.
So, if you work with a leader who doesn’t believe enabling managers is a top priority… you have my deepest sympathy.
But if you do have a chance to invest in – and maybe drive – manager enablement with full leadership support, here is what I suggest.
First, design manager enablement solutions that map to the buyer’s problem-solving journey, then the seller’s problem-solving journey. Note that I am NOT talking about how to sell. I am talking about how to maximize team performance as the sellers help solve customer problems.
Too often, we track how managers oversee sales activities. What we need to track is how managers oversee problem-solving activities – then enable them to do more than track. If you haven’t already mapped out the buyer and seller problem-solving journeys, do it before doing anything else.
Second, architect manager enablement solutions that integrate content, tools, and behaviors. No more random acts of sales manager training without providing the technology and the content for those conversations (sales coaching, anyone?).
The key is that it all works together as a single solution that makes a genuine impact. This also means that if you find an obstacle to building that integrated solution (e.g. the CRM won’t incorporate coaching data with sales data), you will need to SERIOUSLY reconsider if the organization is ready for that solution. Launching something that will not be sustainable is called generating waste…
Third, prioritize your manager enablement solutions based on maximum impact with the least amount of time, cost, and disruption. This is CRITICAL to your success.
Manager enablement is always complex. Therefore, you need to generate quick, sustainable wins and not get dragged down by the complexity. Don’t fall into the trap of prioritizing the biggest – and most – complex solutions as the magical fix-all of your manager enablement woes. It just doesn’t work that way. Instead, build the momentum of a flywheel: small steps that generate bigger ones.
If you haven’t noticed already, I just used the best practices of my previous three weeks’ worth of blogs. And I did that intentionally. For starters, I really do believe that these principles drive amazing sales enablement. I wanted to show how to apply them to a real problem. But I also believe that if you are going to enable anything, enable sales managers first.
Just remember: if you do manager enablement in the wrong way, sales results will most likely go down.
I mua. Onward and upward.
By Tim Ohai
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