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Leading for Sales Performance

Can Your Sales Managers Answer These 5 Critical Questions?

By Michael Leimbach, PhD

Would you ask the best violinist in the orchestra to take over conducting without any preparation to be a conductor? Probably not. And if you did, you wouldn’t have very high expectations for the orchestra’s performance. Yet this is exactly what most organizations do. They promote high-performing salespeople into management roles without preparing them to be confident and competent in the critical areas of coaching, motivating, and developing their people.

It’s not that companies don’t recognize the value of the manager’s role. When a group of sales executives was asked what was most important to improving sales performance, 88% answered, “making sales managers more effective,” a finding consistent with a Sales Executive Council survey. At the same time, over 50% indicated that their organizations were not preparing sales managers to lead effectively. Given the sales manager’s potential impact on performance, these companies are literally leaving money on the table in the form of smaller ROI for sales training, weak sales productivity, and higher turnover costs.

For a relatively modest investment, sales managers can be provided with the tools and knowledge to drive sustainable high performance. To target the handful of essential skills sales managers need, prepare them to answer five simple questions.

Since what individuals find meaningful varies greatly from person to person, managers can be most effective when they understand sources of individual motivation and customize recognition and rewards accordingly.

Michael Leimbach, PhD

Michael Leimbach, PhD, is a globally recognized expert in instructional design and leadership development. As Vice President of Global Research and Development for Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc., he has worked with numerous Global 1000 organizations in Australia, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and throughout the United States. Over more than 30 years, Dr. Leimbach had developed Wilson Learning’s diagnostic, learning, and performance improvement capabilities, published over 100 professional articles, coauthored four books, been Editor-in-Chief for the highly acclaimed ADHR research journal, and is a frequent speaker at national and global conferences. He also serves on the ISO Technical Committee (TC232) on Quality Standards for Learning Service Providers and on the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development Dean’s Advisory Board.