Accelerating Adoption: Tips for Front-line Managers
Let’s face it, the role of the front-line manager is not easy. They are responsible for salespeople, managing pipeline, interacting with other departments and ensuring that both they and their team are delivering on the expected results. It can be a lot to handle. When it comes to accelerating adoption of a sales initiative, one of the most important roles the front-line managers plays is to reinforce training concepts and skills in a seller's day-to-day activities. The front-line manager is a sales leader's "boots on the ground", helping to facilitate, inspire, coach and provide reinforcement.
So how do we help front-line managers enable their team, reinforcing skills their reps have learned in the classroom? Below are some tips that can help enable your front-line managers to reinforce your sales initiative:
Commitment to Reinforcement
This might sound simple, but it’s one of the most important things you can do as a sales leader. Without demonstrating your continued commitment, reinforcement simply will not happen. It's not simply delivering the skills, it's having a sales enablement process around reinforcing them. At the same time, you also need your sales managers to be accountable to lead the reinforcement. There should be specific milestones set for each manager to achieve and dates associated with them. These benchmarks provide focus and give you line-of-sight into whether the reinforcement is actually happening.
Leverage Data to Focus on Improving Specific Skills
Having a system in place to gauge how your sales teams are absorbing and using the new methodology is critical. These sales dashboards should provide your front-line managers with the areas their sales teams may be struggling. Whether it be on the front-end of the call cycle, advancing through the middle of the call cycle, or closing, if you want your front-line managers to coach reps to success, they need to know where their team is struggling. An online engagement management system can provide this data and allow your managers to map reinforcement activities to the needs of specific team members.
Reinforce One or Two Skills at a Time
This strategy ensures the information is consumable for the reps to absorb. Perhaps your managers focus first on pre-call planning with their reps and then shift the focus to great discovery. When reps may be struggling with trying a new way of doing things, it’s best to break problem areas off into small chunks that they can focus on improving. Be sure they're also lifting up examples of reps
Let’s face it. Your sales team has a big responsibility to achieve big numbers. The front-line manager has an opportunity to help them capture the vision that reinforcement will improve their outcomes. Don't wait for the big numbers to celebrate success for the initiative. Encourage your managers to celebrate even the smallest successes with their teams. Things like trying out a new question track with a prospect, practicing with role plays prior to a customer call, even using a pre-call planner aligned to the new methodology can all be signs reinforcement efforts are succeeding. Calling attention to the success of early adopters and the success they're having encourages others to follow suit and helps maintain momentum of the initiative.
Accountability is Key
Leverage benchmarks and data from your learning portal to ensure that improvements are being made. After each coaching session, managers should challenge people to practice and provide them with actionable feedback. Additionally, work with your front-line managers to get into a rhythm of reviewing the commitments with their team members regularly.
Ensure Technology is Part of Your Reinforcement Efforts
Your sales training provider most likely has a very comprehensive set of classes already designed on an e-learning format. These courses focus on specific skills, reinforcement and testing. Managers can invite each team member to participate, learn, review and practice these skills. Review the outcome of each class with team members, set goals, challenge them, and review it again the next time.
Ensuring this platform is mobile-enabled is another way you can learn and reinforce on the go. Reps can listen to modules while waiting for the train, at the airport, or while driving to an appointment at the office. Mobile e-learning provides the ability for reps to learn, practice and commit to the enhancement of the skills. Front-line managers can review the results with each team member during one-on-one sessions, coach for reinforcement, and remember to inspect what they expect.
Your commitment to reinforce sales training concepts will give you and your organization significant dividends. Each team member will see their skill improve, ultimately providing better results for your organization. In fact, industry analyst Aberdeen Group reported that 20% more sales reps achieve quota when their team implements post-training reinforcement. What does this mean for you and your organization? Following the tips for sales training reinforcement success will help you prioritize the skills you want your reps to develop in order to succeed, grow pipelines and close more sales.
More about the Author
Ivan Gomez is a Force Management Partner who specializes in training inside sales teams. He's also the President and Founder of NextStage, LLC, a consulting firm that helps companies accelerate go-to-market strategies with sales development and inside sales.