Using E-Learning to Develop Sales Leadership Skills in Your Team
Sales managers are crucial as they have a direct influence on driving revenue into the business and achieving organisational goals. In many situations, individuals move into a sales leadership role after being in a sales role themselves. However, the skills that sales managers need are different from the skills needed by salespeople.
Therefore, it is beneficial to provide your sales managers with training to improve their leadership and management skills. You can use various training delivery strategies for sales leadership training, including e-learning. In fact, e-learning is the ideal choice for most topic areas.
In terms of topic areas, which sales leadership and management skills should you focus on? The following seven training topics are a good place to start:
- Product knowledge
- Forecasting and sales planning
- Team building
- Interviewing and recruitment
Sales managers should know more about the products or services they are selling than anyone else. As a result, they should receive the most detailed training. This is particularly important when recruiting a new sales manager from outside the organisation, as they will need to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
The benefits of ensuring your sales managers have high levels of product knowledge include:
- Enables them to provide better training and support to salespeople.
- Enhances trust and credibility with customers, particularly key accounts where the sales manager might have direct contact.
- Enables sales managers to develop solutions that are fully optimised for your customers.
Forecasting and Sales Planning
Sales planning is essential to ensure business objectives are achieved and that sales efforts are aligned with business priorities. A crucial part of sales planning is forecasting. Accurate forecasting helps the business plan ahead, including in terms of resources and raw materials. Accurate sales forecasting also helps identify opportunities and risks.
Other key components of sales planning include:
- Setting sales objectives
- Allocation of resources
- Territory management
- Developing sales strategies
- Setting targets
- Performance monitoring
All the above are skills that your sales managers should continuously develop, so they should be part of your sales training.
Salespeople often operate autonomously. There might even be a level of competition with colleagues. Sales managers, on the other hand, need to develop a strong sense of team to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction. Training on this topic area will be particularly beneficial for ex-salespeople who have moved up to a leadership role and who might be more used to working on their own.
The benefits of improving the team-building skills of your sales managers include:
- Better communication within the sales team
- Improved morale and motivation
- Increased trust and collaboration
- Reduced conflicts and tension
- Enhanced resilience
- Improved adaptability
- Higher levels of salesperson retention
- Better sales and optimised performance
Compliance can be a tricky area for sales managers, so it is important they have the right skills and knowledge. This is also a topic area that needs to be revisited regularly to ensure sales managers continue to operate with correct information and the right level of focus.
The benefits of compliance training for your sales managers include:
- Ensuring sales operations adhere to relevant laws in areas like data protection and financial regulations.
- Protecting the company’s reputation.
- Minimising the risks that arise from non-compliance.
- Ensuring sales managers and their teams follow internal policies and procedures.
- Ensuring managers are equipped to make ethical decisions.
Interviewing and recruitment
Building a team of high-performing salespeople is a core part of a sales manager’s role. This includes having the ability to identify and recruit good salespeople. Interviewing and recruitment are, therefore, essential skills that you should develop in your sales managers.
In addition to improving your organisation’s ability to identify and recruit the best sales talent, enhancing the interviewing and recruitment skills of your sales managers also helps to:
- Ensure you have a diverse sales team.
- Reduce turnover in the sales team.
- Improve overall team performance, as recruiting talented individuals can have a positive impact on the wider team.
- Reduce time spent on recruitment, as you reduce the risk of hiring the wrong people.
Another important responsibility of sales managers is improving the skills of the salespeople on their team. This includes everything from sales and closing skills to lead generation and nurturing skills to presentation and communication skills. However, just because a sales manager has this knowledge doesn’t mean they have the ability to train the people on their team. Sales managers also need good training skills.
Sales managers with good training skills can:
- Improve sales team performance.
- Improve sales team talent retention.
- Enhance the ability of the sales team to adapt to change.
- Improve the onboarding process for new salespeople.
- Build a strong sales culture.
Communication is an important skill for all sales professionals, as communicating with customers is the main part of the job. For sales managers, though, additional communication skills are required, including the ability to communicate with their team. Sales managers also need to communicate with other departments and the organisation’s senior leadership.
In terms of the types of communication skills, sales managers need a broad range, including:
- Active listening skills
- Verbal communication skills
- Non-verbal communication skills (facial expressions, body language, etc)
- Written communication skills
- Presentation skills
- Negotiation skills
- Report writing skills
Continuously Upskilling Your Sales Managers
Sales managers will also benefit from a range of other skills training, including leadership training, problem-solving, and critical thinking, as well high-level skills on your organisation’s CRM system.
The best approach is to develop a comprehensive training programme for your sales managers. There will be crossover with other managers and leaders, so much of the content you produce can be repurposed. Giving the crucial role that sales managers play in organisational success, continuously upskilling is essential.