Today’s dynamic, hyper-connected world has radically changed the way sellers sell. These changes have brought new urgency to skill development.
Why then, do most sales managers spend less than 10% of their time coaching and giving feedback to their sellers? On their own, most sellers aren’t going to develop all the skills they need. The role of a game-changing manager is more crucial than ever.
However, there is a current crisis among sales managers, with most of them not spending enough time developing their sellers, and sellers directly feeling these shortcomings. Just 38% of sellers report their manager helps them develop the skills they need for their role today, while only 34% report their manager helps them develop the skills they need for the future.
This may be partly due to many sales managers mistakenly believing that formal classroom training is enough on its own to sufficiently develop an employee. Most of this type of training is too product focused, though – not to mention, time-consuming.
On the other hand, managers can tailor their coaching to each seller’s unique situation, thus capitalising on the areas that need work and saving the seller time.
Managers also significantly influence a seller’s longevity at a company, so between underdeveloped sellers and the cost of replacing those who leave, a single uninvolved sales manager can cost a company up to several million dollars!
Knowing how important it is for a company to have a manager-led approach to coaching and training, what are the best managers doing to develop employees in today’s work environment?
Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, asked this very question. Their analysis of nearly 90 variables evaluating demonstrated manager behaviors and their effectiveness across a variety of industries, functions, and geographies found that managers exhibit four approaches to coaching and development:
- Teacher managers develop employees based on their expertise and experience, providing advice-oriented feedback and directing their employees’ development
- Always On managers provide continuous, frequent coaching, drive their employees’ development and give feedback across a breadth of skills
- Connector managers introduce employees to others for coaching and development and create a positive team environment while providing targeted feedback to their employees
- Cheerleader managers take a hands-on approach to development; give empowering, positive feedback; and enable their employees to direct their own development
The most effective managers? Based on the descriptions alone, it may seem the Always On managers were the ones who achieved the highest team performance. However, the Connectors far outperformed the rest, improving employee performance by up to 26% and tripling the likelihood that their direct reports are high performers.
Connector sales managers did even better in the sales category, having up to a 47% impact on seller performance!
In light of this, what are the three key functions that Connectors carry out:
- Connector managers tailor development to employee needs and interests
- Connector managers cultivate peer development through interactive and real-time team activities
- Connector managers facilitate beneficial connections by teaching employees how to learn from new connections and helping employees expand their networks
It should be clear, now, why Connectors make such effective sales managers. They customize development, cultivate interactivity, and facilitate connections.
The need for sales managers to develop their sellers is only going to grow greater and greater as time goes on and the world continues to speed up. Don’t wait to be caught off guard, though. The time to invest in your sellers and adopt a “Connector” mindset is now!
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