YOU have just been promoted to sales manager. It is a role that you have been aspiring to, and you have worked hard for it.
You delivered great results as a salesman - but now the game has changed. The package has changed, your ranking in the company has increased, the perks all look attractive and you can see a bright future.
Now put the rosy vision aside for a bit, and let us look at your real world. Upon commencing your role as sales manager, you are confronted by the many challenges posed by a diverse organisation.
Your peer group, subordinates, superiors, partners, channel partners and customers all want your time. Amid all this pressure, you have to negotiate your way through a minefield of conflicting interests and agendas.
Were you trained for this? Do you have the many skills that you will require to be successful? Do you have sufficient time to take all this on board and develop the skills you need to be successful, while maintaining the sales results for which you are responsible?
The good news is that you are not alone. Your reality is shared by many sales managers the world over. The sales world today is one of increased complexity: more complex sales, higher expectations associated with solution selling and an increase in margin demands.
This is difficult for the traditionally skilled, high performance sales manager. Many of the skills and the knowledge that have been accumulated over the years were acquired from text books or based on scenarios that have lost some relevance in today's fast moving world.
Customers have also changed significantly. They have encountered a lot of salesmen, they know the sales techniques and strategies and are tired of seeing the same old thing.
Recent research from Consalia, a training and development consultancy, indicates that the values which drive customers to buy are out of step with the behaviours of sales teams. The research has highlighted four values that clients seek:
But these four values are not what customers are seeing from salesmen. Instead they see four limiting values:
How can sales managers come to grips with the new demands placed on them as well as help their teams demonstrate the four values that customers want?
One solution is to invest in sales management coaching. Sales managers who receive coaching not only gain competencies in their own roles, but also the skills to coach their sales staff with maximum effectiveness.
Effective coaching can have a dramatic impact on both the performance and retention of salesmen. Research has shown that effective coaching has the biggest impact on the "core" population of the sales force. Neither the top 10 per cent nor the bottom 10 per cent of performers improve greatly, but the core improves significantly in terms of both effort and results.
At the top end of the sales force, although effective coaching does not have a big impact on performance, it does have a significant positive impact on retention. And these are the people you want in your team.