Sales leaders are MVPs. They’re on the frontlines, equipping sales reps in the field.
They need to receive ongoing sales leadership training to be adequately prepared for the challenges of leading their teams.
You may be a sales leader who’s looking to advance your professional development, or a company looking to make your sales leaders more effective.
Either way, this article contains some of the best resources for sales leadership training.
At ASLAN, we’re passionate about bringing all of the best to light: best practices, best ideas, best tactics. That’s because we know that, in sales, your people get fewer and fewer chances to win business. They’re up against an unReceptive world, but that doesn’t mean the work is impossible. It just requires agility and new ways of thinking. It also requires highly skilled sales leaders and sales managers. Read on to learn more.
Find Resources to Train Sales Leaders
There are plenty of places to find resources to train sales leaders: digital or online courses, leadership forums, LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn Learning modules, podcasts, you name it.
Two ASLAN resources come to mind right away that are a goldmine for sales leaders:
First, our capabilities assessment. Most sales leaders coach around behaviors, never getting to the core capabilities of their people to drive meaningful change. We have created a list of all of the unique capabilities that are necessary to be successful in sales, then crafted an assessment tool around it. Any tool that helps sales leaders better understand what to look for in their people, and what qualities will support success, is a game-changer.
Second, our developmental activities exercises. Sales leaders often have growth goals for reps. For example, “I need Jenn to get better at discovery.” So, they’ll coach Jenn to “ask more open-ended questions.” But that’s just a suggestion.
A developmental activity would support growth through real-world practice and application. Instead of making a blanket suggestion to Jenn, the sales leader would task her with a developmental activity:
“This weekend, when you have a BBQ at the neighbor’s house, your job is not to talk. When you meet someone new, don’t tell your story. Just ask open ended questions. Then, when we get together next week, I want you to report back to me and tell me how it went. Was it comfortable? What were the biggest challenges? How did you do? What was the result of that?”
Developmental activities are a great way for sales leaders to become better coaches.
What Skills do Sales Leaders Need?
The internet is full of sales leadership resources. We have plenty too. As you start deciding what to consume or recommend, the question becomes: what skills do sales leaders need most?
The best sales leaders in the world are great leaders, great managers, and great coaches. Any sales leadership training resources you consume should be feeding one of those three skill sets.
1. LEAD — Other-CenteredⓇ Leadership — Are sales leaders listening to podcasts, taking courses, and reading articles that teach them the vital skills of empathy, understanding, and character? Are they growing in their ability to inspire their team? These are leadership skills.
Becoming Other-Centered is the best way to win the influence that sales leaders need to positively impact their teams.
2. MANAGE — A great sales manager does just that: manage people. They understand the nuances, psychology, behavior patterns, communication demands, and all of the complexities of managing sales reps.
Skilled sales managers create a positive and challenging culture for professional development. This requires a unique balance of relational equity and discipline.
3. COACH — We use the words “manager” to describe sales leaders a lot, and that’s accurate. But it’s incomplete. You can only get people so far by inspiring them and managing them — they need their capabilities stretched to get them to the next level, which requires coaching.
Coaches spend time observing sales reps interacting with customers. They know their people and coordinate efforts to build skills, then they implement accountability measures to make sure those skills are truly growing.
Sales managers who build all three of these areas can diagnose and develop their team.
Coach the Coach
One of the best resources for sales leaders I’ll call out by name, because we offer it, and it’s Coach the Coach.
Coach the Coach was born out of a real-world need.
ASLAN certifies sales leaders on how to be a coach. It’s highly effective. We work with large companies and some very well-known sales leaders who can rattle off 73 workshops they’ve been through. Then, we sit down with them one on one and light bulbs go off.
Coach the Coach with ASLAN happens in three cycles and there’s nowhere to hide. We walk sales leaders through real, current scenarios with their teams, beginning with modeling, then moving to co-coaching, then observing and providing feedback.
It’s extremely powerful, and if you’re interested in learning more, click or tap here.
A Final Word: Find the Right Points of Focus
Once you start exploring sales leadership training resources, you’ll see an emphasis on management activities.
Many sales leaders are taught to view their reps as game pieces: move them the right way, and you’ll win.
The problem with that thinking is it dehumanizes reps and discounts the power of leadership as influence.
It is more complex to train sales leaders to be people-oriented, not just giving them management activities to do or strategies to implement.
But that complexity is worth diving into. No sales rep is going to change their ways without owning the process, and only a skilled leader knows how to facilitate that level of meaningful engagement.
Genuine, authentic, lasting growth is only achieved through an effective coaching relationship.
Effective Sales Leadership Training
These days, your sales leaders are probably being asked to do more with less. They may feel they have no time, no ideas, no recourse. But the truth is, there is always a way. When the right individuals are operating as sales leaders, they will embrace the calling to effectively coach their teams to success.
Investing in sales leadership training is an investment in the future of your business. If they really are at the helm, they need all of the navigational, strategic, tactical, and coaching skills they can get.
That’s where ASLAN comes in. We take sales managers through a transformational process, uncovering their strengths, shoring up their weaknesses, and giving them the powers of discernment to invest their time wisely.