Training Sales Managers: Advice from the teams at Google, Cooltra, & Elevos
Eduflow logo
min read

Training Sales Managers: Advice from the teams at Google, Cooltra, & Elevos

Salespeople working together

Being a great salesperson doesn’t mean you'll automatically be a great sales manager—just look at The Office’s famously incompetent boss Michael Scott. 

In most companies, the highest performers get rewarded with promotions and new responsibilities. And that’s how it should work! But giving someone a new set of responsibilities doesn’t mean they automatically gain a matching set of skills. Even the most impressive salesperson will need training and support to become a competent sales manager. And even competent sales managers need ongoing training and support to excel at their jobs. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. In a study performed by Vantage Point Performance, 41% of the participating companies did not have sales manager training programs. Bad sales leadership can have dire consequences on your bottom line, much more than a single underperforming salesperson, as Scott Baird, the Chairman and owner of Griffin Hill, points out. “If the sales leader is inadequate, or untrained, or poorly onboarded—the results for the team will be disastrous.”

To help your company avoid the pitfalls of poor sales management, we talked to sales management training experts and gathered their tips to build a training program that will lead to success. Here’s what they had to say. 

Psst... we also have a free sales onboarding template to help you train new sales folks on your team. Try it out!

1. Start by defining success for the role

As sales managers take on more responsibilities, the metrics for success in their jobs also evolve. The first step is to define what that success will look like as they continue to advance in management. 

“The easiest way to build a training program is to start with a clear understanding of the responsibilities for a given role,” says Jake Prince, co-founder and senior learning consultant at Elevos. “You need to be able to measure someone's ability to perform each of those responsibilities and you need to be able to help them with whatever stage of competence they're currently at.”

For sales managers, success looks different than it does for sales reps: They become behind-the-scenes leaders who motivate their team and help them meet their goals, and they often interact less with potential clients directly. 

Build training that encourages them to delegate more of their tasks progressively as they grow into their new role, so you aren’t abruptly moving them away from the skills they have that got them promoted in the first place. 

2. Understand your company’s leadership philosophy so you can teach it

As a senior instructional designer at Google, Jodie Bennett always starts by asking questions when she designs training. “I would go to the leadership team to understand our management philosophy and how it is aligned with what we are doing now,” she explains. “I want to understand our guiding principles.” 

Another key consideration for Jodie is understanding the metrics for success that sales managers are evaluated on. “It’s important to know what the leadership thinks is important for managers, and also how our managers are measured,” she says. “At Google, we have formal ways that the company is able to check in with Googlers about their managers, for example.”

Ever wondered how Google trains their sales team? With Eduflow.

3. Break learning into smaller pieces 

Sales managers already have a solid track record of high performance, but they still need to regularly level up and master new skills if they want to keep progressing within their role. 

You can help sales managers build new skills using microlearning, or bite-sized chunks of learning designed to help them master specific knowledge in a short amount of time. When a new challenge arises, sales managers can pause their task, quickly find the right micro-lesson, learn what they need, and get back to work, without spending hours going through training materials. 

4. Encourage them to treat their reps as individuals

Your sales managers have the sales chops, and they probably know exactly who on their teams is getting results (or isn’t). But understanding how different people respond to different management styles is one of the trickiest skills for new managers to learn—but it’s also one of the most important, according to Daniel Basilio, who works in business development for the startup Cooltra. “You need to have your team working together as a group, motivating each other,” he says. “You need to understand what motivates each person, and you can’t all treat them the same. People respond differently to situations.” Role-playing different management scenarios can help new team leaders build their interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.  

5. Coach them on coaching 

Sales is all about hitting goals and constantly improving performance, and one of the best ways to do that is to coach employees on sales techniques and problem-solving. 

Scott Baird recommends spending extra time teaching sales managers how to conduct formal weekly team coaching sessions. “We want leaders to understand both how and why to conduct weekly coaching sessions,” Scott says. “In order to reach peak performance, onboarding and training sales managers is as important as onboarding sales reps.” Sales managers can use Eduflow’s video features to practice and record their coaching to compare notes and solicit feedback from other managers. 

Learn more about building a coaching culture at your company. 

Want to learn more about collaborative learning? Join our free Cohort Based Course about Designing Social Learning Experiences

Apply Now!

6. Spend some time on the basics

Once sales reps become team leaders, they most likely know tons about your product, your processes, and the sales tools your company uses. But a brief refresher is still a good idea: processes change, tools get updated, and companies pivot. A sales manager who knows the company’s current best practices is a valuable resource for the whole team. 

Sales managers also use their tech stack differently than sales reps do. They need to know more about analytics and running reports, and their time is arguably more valuable to the company. “It’s important for sales managers to understand their tools and how they can make the best of these tools, not only for themselves but for their team as well,” Daniel says.  

Spending some extra training time on mastering their tech (and especially their CRM) from a manager’s perspective can help them save time and track problems to their source more efficiently, Daniel adds. “Let’s say we are not reaching our targets,” he uses as an example. “From a good report, a manager can see if the problem is the prospection, if sellers are having trouble reaching the right people, or if they are reaching people and they’re having trouble converting them from leads to deals.” You want sales managers to understand why something is happening—not just report what they’re seeing. 

7. Finally, include leadership skills designed for the entire company

Sales-specific leadership training is important, but many core leadership skills are the same for anyone in management, whether they’re a team lead or the CEO. “People management brings its own special set of skills,” Jake Prince explains. “I like to define a standard set of skills that are useful to anyone who manages people, whether they're in sales or engineering or operations, it doesn't matter. And then I like to have them go through a leadership training program in addition to the functional training program they have for their specific group.” 

Cohort-based social leadership training courses are a great way to help managers from different parts of your company interact and learn from each other. With the right training, sales managers can gain confidence in all aspects of their jobs and motivate their teams to get results. 

Hear what our program manager William Cronje has to say about cohort-based learning on the BLOC podcast

Want to start training your sales managers? Build a course with Eduflow today.  

Quick navigation

Request a demo

Talk to us the way you prefer

Interested in exploring our product on a demo, getting a quote or do you just want to send us an email?
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.