Is there a crisis of poor sales management?

Wanna talk through how an insight like this can impact your company?


The final six coaches of March Madness are: John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Mark Few, Bo Ryan. For those that don’t immediately get it, these guys represent a roll call of 6 of the 10 most successful coaches of the last decade or more, so as much as we talk about players…there’s something to this coaching thing.

So when we think about the general state of B2B business development (especially in our beloved commercial finance business) it makes us think, is there something to this coaching thing? We often don’t revel in the skilled glory of great sales managers. In fact, they might just be the most rare commodity in B2B financial services and the B2B landscape period. We wonder if great sales management has become a lost art? Here’s why…

When we engage in messaging work, we work with senior leadership, sales management and sales…separately. We regularly find pretty strong alignment with senior leadership and sales management, but a startling disconnect between sales management and the actual sales team. Often managers deliver a compelling value proposition, while their employees can’t.

So, we did a little experiment. We put the value proposition (elevator speech) of sales management in front of 4 of our client’s sales teams and ask for their thoughts.  The top 3 answers were:

  • I’ve never heard it like that before
  • That’s better than mine
  • No one ever told me how to position the company

And of course we took all the credit for the newly connected dots…like any consultant would do 🙂 In actuality, there seemed to be a lack of “coaching” going on. So, we did another experiment. We asked the sales managers of the same 4 clients questions about their primary job function, the top answers were:

  • Constantly recruiting
  • Fighting internal execution challenges
  • Working deals
  • Budget management

Conspicuously absent? Player development. Did you ever think if you trained, mentored and developed salespeople better, you’d have to spend less time recruiting? If employees were better prepared you’d have to spend less time working their deals to ensure numbers are hit? As a final experiment we asked the sales team to describe the current role of sales management…the envelope please…

  • Ask for volume, volume, volume
  • Lead pipeline reporting calls
  • Engage in deals that are at proposal stage that are of certain size
  • When asked about frequency of conversations around development…”rarely or never”
  • When asked about the frequency of conversations about techniques to get in the door “rarely or never”
  • When asked to grade their company on the tools provided to sales to enable better sales conversations, 1 got a C, the others flunked.

“If you give someone to fish, they have a meal. If you teach them to fish, they’ll eat for a lifetime.” In B2B Financial Services we have an aging group of professionals and younger less experienced salespeople are struggling to stick in the business. Might be time to look at our coaching staff gang. If you ever wanna chat about how Marketing plays a role in empowering sales team and helps sales management…give us a holler.

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