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Who Needs Training Most - Sales Executives or Sales Managers?

Posted 5 years ago

Sales managers are often the catalyst for new training initiatives among their sales executives. But what about the managers themselves? Are businesses overlooking sales manager training? This week, new contributor Monika Götzmann shares her findings. As the Marketing Director of a global sales training firm, Monika has had a front row seat for sales training outcomes produced by both initiatives. As sales training investments trend increasingly upwards, you’ll want to know where to place your focus.

Who Needs Training Most – Sales Executives or Sales Managers?

by Monika Götzmann

The average business is all too aware of how important it is to train their staff properly. It is for this reason that spending on corporate training stands at around $1.4 million per year in mid-size companies, rising to $70 million in large organizations, according to Training Magazine’s 2015 Industry Report. With that said, companies are not always so good when it comes to prioritizing training for different departments and job roles. This can sometimes result in ineffective training for certain staff members; a phenomenon that Grovo have estimated to cost businesses $13.5 million each year, per 1,000 employees. Ideally, everyone within an organization needs high-quality training, but there are instances when prioritization is needed. In this post, we take a closer look at the importance of both sales management and sales executive training, and attempt to decide which group needs effective training the most.

Training Sales Executives Sales executives are the most important contact point between a business and its customers, so their performance is integral to the success of an organization. However, in a study commissioned by Middlesex University, it was found that 74 percent of workers feel they aren’t achieving their full potential and want more training. In addition to improving their overall competency and building their product knowledge, effective training can help sales executives to become more engaged at work. The significance of this should not be underestimated when you consider that 26 percent of employees are “actively disengaged”, according to research from Gallup. Consequences of having a disengaged sales workforce include high staff turnover, with as many as one in three sales executives leaving their job within the first year. Indeed, CED Magazine report that 70 percent of people cite job-related training and development opportunities as a key factor in deciding whether to stay in a job.

Training Sales Managers Of course, training your sales managers also has a number of important benefits. It is so important to get the basics of management right, and things like product knowledge, target setting and performance evaluation can all be taught through an effective sales management training program. Furthermore, the positive effects extend beyond the managers themselves. Research shows that highly trained managers form better relationships with sales executives, leading to greater morale, reduced staff absenteeism and lower staff turnover; which, as you will remember, was a key benefit of training sales executives too.

” An employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager is the most important single factor in employee engagement,” says Victor Lipman, founder of Howling Wolf Management Training, writing for Forbes. “Respected well-trained managers boost morale, and improved morale boosts retention.”

Which Should You Prioritize? Generally speaking, it can be argued that executive training is more essential, because managers should at least have a degree of competence without it, especially if they have worked their way up internally. Moreover, there is no agreed upon skill set for managers as such, as successful managers can have drastically different qualities. Nevertheless, most organizations under-invest in training for sales managers, choosing instead to focus on the top and bottom of the company. In fact, research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that companies with between 100 and 500 employees provide an average of just 6 minutes of manager training every six months. It could, therefore, be argued that for most companies, the biggest improvement in results would be seen if they increased spending on training their sales managers. This can then have a positive impact on the manager and sales team as a whole, leading to reduced turnover, improved performance and, hopefully, greater sales success.


sales managersMonika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional sales training courses and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better leadership skills and sales executive training.