Sales organizations are smart to invest in “onboarding” – systematic programs that assist new salespeople up the learning curve. Yet plenty of companies miss the boat when it comes to onboarding sales leadership.
In fact, most firms are caught flat-footed when a sales manager leaves the firm. Without a ready bench of prepared manager candidates, open management headcount stays open – or a poor manager candidate is promoted hastily. For sales organizations that can’t afford a lapse in productivity, either alternative is costly, with cascading impacts across salespeople and sales teams affected by absent leadership.
How do high performing sales organizations build an effective sales manager bench strength program? At The Sales Management Association’s Sales Force Productivity Conference [Atlanta October 23-25], Carl Stockholm, National Sales Manager at CCH Wolters Kluwer and Linda Maxwell from Business Efficacy will outline Wolters Kluwers’ highly successful manager development initiative.
Key learnings from Wolters Kluwers’ program include:
- Building a business case for program investment. Program ROI for these initiatives is often very, very high – but they don’t get sold to executive leadership unless the benefits are quantified in a compelling and believable fashion. Wolters began by quantifying the costs of poor bench strength, then layering on top the benefits of promotion-ready managers.
- Define fundamental aspects of the sales manager role. Establishing an expected cadence of management activities prepares new managers to hit the ground running. Without it, management becomes all improvisation, and no structure.
- Manager competencies create a job spec. Successful managers must have skills and competencies distinct from successful sales people. Taking care to develop competency-based job tools serves as a reference spec for the sales force’s recruiting, development and retention efforts for sales managers.
- Establish structured manager onboarding, with defined activities and expected outcomes.
- Support new managers. Among the most fertile periods for leadership development are the initial months of a new management assignment. Sales organizations should focus developmental efforts here to hardwire expected leadership traits, and insure new managers are confident and well-equipped. Wolters’ support initiatives included several cost-effective ideas that made an enormous difference in initial manger effectiveness.
Join us for Jump Starting New Sales Manager Performance: Case Study and Best Practices at the Sales Management Association’s 2012 Sales Force Productivity Conference.