Leadership Training Has Gone From: Nice To Have, To Absolutely Critical

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a podcast. It was talking to sales leaders, discussing how leadership development has moved into a critical state. In most companies, too many sales leaders are new to their role – and fresh to management. The company has spent a lot of time, money, and energy on sales plans, processes, and methodologies, but they’ve never taken the same rigor to develop coaching methodologies, processes, and sales plays that sales leaders are responsible for driving accountability towards.

Sales leaders typically have an ad hoc process to running their one-on-one’s; they aren’t keeping the same data points and KPIs, and measuring against it at the same rigor. So to use a sports analogy, you’ve spent all this time telling the players on the field what to do, but the coaches don’t understand what good looks like – the players are running plays, but if you’re not scoring touchdowns, you can’t figure out where in the coaching process the playbook’s falling apart.

There’s no question that in the last year companies have been asking us about leadership development. In fact, I was just on a call with a customer who has now engaged us for three years to design, build, implement, reinforce, and enable a global, digital sales coaching program, that will be built right into the very fabric of how the leaders will drive accountability, run their one-on-one’s, ask questions, and how they’re going to measure.

This stems primarily from a fundamental question or problem we’ve been hearing on our coaching calls, which is that the coaches, the sales leaders, don’t understand two things:

1) What is an effective prospecting sales play that the sales person doesn’t
already know?
How can the coach and leader add value to the seller’s life? Instead of being an administrator who simply captures data and puts it into the CRM – basically being “big brother” – they can ask questions like a mentor, to get the seller to think boldly and differently. They can get the seller to think and question their own process, and ultimately the coach will provide ideas on a prospecting sales play that the seller doesn’t already know, which the seller will greatly appreciate.

2) Most sellers are weak at prospecting, and lack the confidence to address
the C-level buyer.
Sellers are going into accounts too low on the organizational charts, too afraid to engage the C-suite. The coach isn’t providing unique and valuable insights on how to do this, because the coach came from a world of sales plays that was “pick up the phone and call them.” But that’s how the playbook was run in the 1990s, not in 2020. They don’t know how to socially surround the buyer looking for key insights, how to engage the buyer using video or LinkedIn emails effectively, and the average coach hasn’t prospected in the modern, digital buying era.

My prediction: you’re going to see more and more companies spend a lot of time, money, and energy developing frontline sales managers. I predict in the 2020s, there’s going to be a surge in developing those leaders because companies will no longer allow those leaders to run old, tired playbooks.

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