Let’s start with the Sales Managers

I spoke this week with a leader who wanted to assess his sales managers for potential development. He felt it would be better to start with sales managers – that’s how they always proceed with development. Who was it that started the misguided belief that you have to start with managers?

When I said that in order to look at the managers we had to look also at the salespeople who reported to those managers this VP was shocked! He thought we were just trying to beef up the cost of the evaluation. Let’s take a look at this from outside the world of the sales organization. If we wanted to assess the effectiveness of the teachers in a school system, we would certainly have to look at the teachers on a school by school basis. However, would an assessment of the teachers, grouped by school, truly demonstrate their effectiveness? Absolutely not. It would tell us what they know about teaching, how they approach teaching; and what they do when they are teaching. It would not provide insights to their effectiveness. If we truly wanted to learn about their effectiveness and ultimately, how to develop our teachers so that they could be exponentially more effective, we must look at their students and objectively assess and analyze their effectiveness in a number of benchmark areas.

Back to the sales force. If you truly wish to learn how effective your sales managers are, you must look at both the sales managers and the salespeople who report to them. Only then can you truly identify the areas in which sales managers are failing to develop their people to reach their fullest potential.

Back to starting with sales managers. When it comes time to initiate the development process, it does make sense to begin with the sales managers but in the early stage, when you must determine exactly what kind of development the sales managers require, where they need improvement, where they must be more effective; and what and who they must focus more of their time on, starting with only the sales managers is not an acceptable option.