Companies all over the country are spending thousands of dollars to put their sales reps through extensive sales training. An employee returns to work eager to sell, but they soon find little has changed.

It could be, the wrong person has received the training. A manager who is self-motivated and people-oriented -- and who understands how to manage a sales team -- can do more for your bottom line than a whole flock of sales-trained employees. With a little sales management training, your managers can be the driving force in your sales effort.

The true value and duties of a sales manager should include; training, coaching, goal setting and tracking, recognition, effective sales meetings and opportunities to grow and develop themselves as well as their team.


A hot sales manager provides training in the four top concerns of a salesperson: Product knowledge, potential customers for products, the competition and sales skills.

Product training is continuous and works best when presented at a set time each week or month. Whatever the format, several facets are included: the product's features, benefits to the customer, cues and opportunities, open-probing questions and typical objections. Providing technical information alone is not enough -- your people need the sales information.

A sales manager involves the team in keeping an eye on competitors. Each sales rep may be assigned to monitor a specific competitor by collecting the sales literature, clipping pertinent ads and articles and personally shopping the competition by phone or in person. A monthly or quarterly meeting to discuss the competition is recommended along with a competition binder or board for future use.

The actual sales training can take several approaches, depending on your resources. Some firms have formal sales training programs. In other cases, the sales manager may conduct the training or bring in an outside consultant. Role playing -- having one employee act the part of the customer and another play the rep -- is used whenever possible and demonstrated by your manager.


When evaluating in-house sales staff, the manager can observe the employees' customer interaction and then offer coaching and feedback. On customer calls, your sales manager can jointly pre-call plan and accompany your rep to observe the call, taking care not to take over the call. Afterwards, your manager and rep debrief on strengths and weaknesses to improve.
Having seen your sales rep in action, your sales manager may decide that improvement is needed. This is where coaching comes in. From our experience, many sales reps need coaching to improve their pre-call planning and probing skills.

After reviewing tracking reports, your manager must determine why the rep isn't performing satisfactorily. Does the employee know their performance is below par? Are obstacles beyond the employee's control hindering their efforts? Does the employee know how to reach their goals?

Setting and tracking goals

Your sales managers must set realistic, achievable goals for all staff with sale responsibility. Goals can be expressed in several ways; dollars of new business, numbers of new accounts or ratios of sales per customer. Additional goals may be set for prospecting efforts, such as a weekly quota of minimum outside visits and phone calls.

Once goals are set, results are tracked and publicized. Posting results in a highly visible way, such as on a central bulletin board, often is a booster. Sales may be tracked in several ways. Many reputable firms provide sales tracking software and others offer paper-based tracking systems.

Recognition and reward

We mentioned earlier that employees showing only slight improvement need encouragement. But don't forget that top performers mean the most to your revenue and deserve special recognition. Besides bonuses and commissions, a wide variety of tangible incentives can be offered -- extra vacation days, a roving trophy, gift certificates, for example. Something as simple as public praise at sales meetings is also important. We find that personal, time-saving services are very popular right now. Fro example, give your staff housecleaning, carpet cleaning, window cleaning or auto detailing certificates.

Exclusive sales and achievement clubs are an excellent vehicle to provide continuing recognition. Clubs are commonly used in many sales organizations such as Xerox Corporation, New York Life Insurance, Coldwell Banker. In this approach, targets can be set for each team or group of employees. When individuals reach the threshold for their group, they automatically join the club and receive special perks and recognition. To maintain a standard of excellence, the threshold is difficult, but not impossible. For example, any sales rep reaching $400,000 in sales per quarter, is a member of the Silver Club and $500,000, the President's Club.

Organization and follow-up

Another prime role of a sales manager is to help the sales staff be organized.
Successful sales managers require their reps to be disciplined in updating their contact management records and persistently follow up with all prospects and customers. Its important to record all business and personal information uncovered about each customer. By requiring sales employees to plan outside calls in advance and follow a systematic call report process, the manager keeps close tabs on staff activity. These processes also assist the manager in offering appropriate advice and encouragement.

Sales meetings

One of the most important roles of the sales manager is running an effective and engaging sales meeting. When conducted properly, sales meetings provide tremendous learning opportunities as well as motivation for the staff.

Sales meetings should be held at least twice a month and weekly meetings provide even better results. A sales meeting might include the following:

1. A review of goals and progress to date
2. A review of individual and team performance
3. A "sell and tell" session, in which reps share success stories and frustrations
4. A role-playing practice session for probing questions or handling objections
5. A relevant guest speaker, such as a customer or motivational speaker
6. A product knowledge quiz
7. Selections from motivational books or CD’s
8. Recognition and rewards

The meeting ends on an upbeat note with recognition whenever possible. A sales manager wants team members to leave feeling excited about the goals set for them and armed with the tools and motivation to achieve them.


An accomplished sales manager is worth their weight in gold. A CEO is well advised to provide sales management training for their managers. Please keep in mind, however, that "unwillingness to change the players" or trying to create a sales manager from someone with little natural ability are two common pitfalls to avoid. To boost your efforts, focus on identifying your key sales managers and provide the resources and motivation to help them succeed!

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Sanfilippo is an award winning speaker, retreat facilitator, consultant, coach and author of Dream Big! What's The Best That Can Happen? Romano & Sanfilippo partners with business owners and organizations to create a high performing service and culture, retain loyal customers and energize employees. To inquire about speaking availability, order her book, sign up for her e-tips or to see Barbara's new demo video, visit For consulting and training services, visit,