Implementing salesforce.com is not a start and stop project—it’s an ongoing journey for your entire organization. You must continuously educate your staff on Salesforce’s capabilities and iterate on your instance to find the right dynamic and functionalities for your company.
At Dreamforce last year, hundreds of attendees got out of the rain to attend the session, “Grow Your Business - Best Practices to Drive Adoption and Success,” offering tips & tricks to help drive business value from Salesforce investments. The session highlighted the journey that many organizations go through to when switching technologies. At XCG, we say that there should be a 2:1 investment in your people, compared to technology. A new technology is ineffective if your employees don’t understand how to use it, or more importantly, unaware how this new technology will simplify their daily activities.
But even before go-live, you must prepare your organization for the changes and new processes that are set to affect all employees. Consider your organization's current business process including the alignment or misalignment between departments. Ask where the gaps are and how the processes can be streamlined. Be sure you have alignment and a consistent vision and goals between all departments involved.
A global provider of enterprise content management, was suffering from poor user adoption and ineffective utilization of their current technologies. When the organization decided to move to Salesforce, The client needed a strong vision, an agreed upon plan with clear goals, and an end-to-end ongoing training and communication plan. The VP of Global Sales, experienced firsthand the difficulties of poor adoption in their legacy CRM system.
With success criteria defined and goals in place, The client knew they could measure and track success. They were confident that he could focus on the adoption rates of all users. In addition, integrating the tools into one central portal was key. If the technologies were intuitive for the users and the tools were alas aligned and able to communicate with each other, employees would then truly accomplish one true view of the customer.
When a sales manager gets promoted, it’s typically because he or she was a very successful salesperson. However, many of the skills that made the manager successful as a rep are in direct conflict with the skills needed to succeed as a sales manager. Most organizations know this and take great pains to prepare these newly-minted sales managers for success – primarily in the form of training.
One of the most common types of sales management training is leadership training, which is designed to create greater insight and self-awareness about how sales managers relate to their team. While leadership ability is certainly important, there is another type of training that is often missing from the picture — actual sales management training.
At its core, the most necessary role of a sales manager is to manage, coach, and direct salespeople toward their goals. The company’s overall vision and strategy is set by executives and sales leadership, leaving sales managers to carry out the execution of the vision and to achieve its stated targets. Without this vital role of sales managers, a company’s vision and goals will never be realized, but sales managers need the right skills and tools to lead their team to these outcomes.
Having been in a variety of leadership positions myself, I’ve participated in many leadership training programs. My personal experience of leadership training is that it is very enjoyable – so enjoyable that I always feel better about myself for at least a week afterward. The challenge is that the outcomes of most leadership programs are a bit squishy. Interesting, but squishy. What I mean by “squishy” is that the knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to action. I may discover that I am a ‘driver’ and that many of the members of my team are ‘amiables’; however, knowing the personality types of my team members doesn’t mean that I know what they should be doing on a daily basis to achieve their individual goals. Whether I am an ‘intuitive extrovert’ or a ‘feeling introvert’, I still need the management skill to drive my team to a specific revenue target. Knowing how to interpersonally relate to my team members is a valuable skill, but this skill alone doesn’t equip me for my complex, fast-paced role.
The reason I feel compelled to write this article is because I believe that sales managers of course need training on leadership skills, but not at the expense of management training. The reality is front-line sales managers need solid management skills more than anything else to succeed in their role.
So next time you are planning the sales management training programs for your organization, choose a program that will help your sales managers determine what their salespeople need to do on a daily basis, as well as how the sales managers need to spend their own time. Sales managers are most successful when they are able to identify the high-impact selling activities of their sales team and then demonstrate the management behaviors that will improve seller execution of those activities. Leadership is important, but management is crucial.