March 18, 2019 by Jason Contant
Proper manager onboarding and development can have high payback for any sales force, noted the blog Why New Sales Managers Need More Training, published late last week in Harvard Business Review.
Onboarding is the process of integrating a newly hired or transferred employee into the organization and its culture through the necessary skills, knowledge or behaviour.
“The secret [to successful onboarding] is finding the right blend of methods for the situation,” said the blog, which was written for general business audiences and not insurance in particular. “Large sales forces can justify customized programs, while smaller sales forces need more creative approaches.”
The following methods work well for small sales forces, and can also contribute to manager development in large sales forces:
Many companies often don’t do enough to develop their sales managers, note the blog authors. The authors were Andris A. Zoltners, professor emeritus at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and co-founder of ZS Associates, a global business consulting firm; Prabhakant Sinha, co-chairman of ZS Associates; and Sally E. Lorimer, a marketing and sales consultant, and business writer.
Recent research reported in Harvard Business Review confirms what is often the case in organizations: companies promote their best salespeople to become their worst managers. Sometimes companies promote the wrong person – someone who is good at sales but lacks managerial potential.
“The transition from salesperson (player) to manager (coach) is neither easy nor natural for most people,” the blog notes. “Most newly-promoted managers lack critical competencies. They don’t have experience managing others. They haven’t recruited, coached, energized, and retained a team of salespeople. They don’t know how to create a business plan or navigate the internal organization to get needed resources. Without guidance, new managers are forced to improvise, and competency mastery is inconsistent.”
Onboarding is essential for getting new managers out of their comfort zone (selling) and into leading a sales team. After a successful onboarding, ongoing development helps experienced managers refresh skills, address competency gaps, and keep up with the ever-changing sales environment.
“By recognizing the value of developing sales managers and blending the right learning methods, companies can create a winning sales management team and accelerate sales force performance.”