Need To Improve Sales? Invest In Your Sales Managers

Monika Götzmann

When businesses need to improve sales, they are most likely to focus on salespeople and account managers, according to CSO Insights' 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, with 94.3 percent of businesses making them a priority. In addition, the same study found sales training was the most popular sales enablement service.

Certainly, your sales force may be one area to address, but in most organizations, frontline sales managers hold the most vital role. After all, they lead multiple people and influence everything from strategy and productivity to staff absenteeism and turnover. For this reason, to improve sales, you need to invest in your sales managers.

The Leverage of Sales Managers

The single best reason for investment in your sales managers is the amount of influence they have on your organization. Research conducted by Vantage Point Performance, Inc. found that the average sales manager has 9.1 salespeople reporting to them, highlighting the extent of their leverage.

Essentially, this means that a top-performing sales manager has the potential to positively influence the performance of an average of nine salespeople. Perhaps the biggest way sales managers can help those who report to them is through effective sales coaching, which is why companies need to invest in teaching them how to coach.

“When former sales professionals are promoted into this role, they typically lack coaching experience," says Tamara Schenk, Research Director at CSO Insights. “This coaching capability has to be developed as quickly as possible to succeed [and] to be able to leverage a sales team’s full potential."

Consequences of Poor Sales Management

At the same time, this leverage means that a poor sales manager, or a sales manager who has not been developed properly, has the potential to negatively impact upon a significant number of salespeople. In fact, CEB Global suggests the average cost of a failed sales manager may be as much as $4 million when all is said and done.

In particular, poor relationships between sales managers and the sales force can be costly. Multiple studies, including an employee retention report from TINY pulse, have shown that satisfaction levels with immediate superiors have a huge influence on staff turnover rates. As the old saying goes, people leave managers, not companies.

Results of Sales Management Investment

For those who remain unconvinced about the benefits of investing in your sales managers, the aforementioned CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that such investment can have a positive impact on win rates, revenue plan attainment and quota attainment.

When comparing businesses with annual investments that were either smaller or larger than $2,500 per person per year, the study found that win rates could be improved by 9 percent, revenue plan attainment could be improved by 18.4 percent and quota attainment could be improved by 4 percent by being in the >$2,500 category.

Moreover, research from the Sales Management Association found that sales coaching was rated as the highest impact activity on sales effectiveness. Therefore, if your organisation needs to improve sales, it should look to invest in quality sales managers, who develop coaching skills and build positive relationships with their team.

Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales coaching and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional sales coaching and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales representative and leadership skills training.