Today’s dynamic, hyper-connected world has radically changed the way sellers sell. These changes have resulted in an urgency for skill development. Unfortunately, sales managers only spend 10% of their time coaching and giving feedback to their sellers. Most of them are occupied with administrative tasks and unable to invest enough time developing their sales reps. Therefore, these “sellers” are likely missing out on critical opportunities.
Statistics tell us that only 38% of sellers report their manager helps them to develop the skills they need for their role today, and only 34% say their manager helps them develop the skills they need for the future. The truth is, on their own, most sellers won’t dedicate time to skill development. Therefore, role of a hands-on manager, or coach, is more crucial than ever.
By taking a coaching approach, managers can tailor training to each seller’s unique situation – focusing on the areas that need the most improvement. Managers have the power to significantly influence a seller’s longevity at a company. A well-developed seller can have a dramatic impact on the a company’s profitability, conversely an unengaged seller who reports to an uninvolved sales manager can cost a company several million dollars.
Understanding 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 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
Which was the most effective manager type?
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 increase as time goes on and the world continues to speed up. Don’t be caught off guard, the time to invest in your sellers and adopt a “Connector” mindset is now.
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