You read it correctly. The title is not a typo.
In an article that was sent to my inbox this week the author reports that it is ten times more effective to train your sales managers as opposed to your frontline sales people. The article, which seems to be based on a slightly older talk by Neil Rackham the author of the famous SPIN selling books and program for an organization called the Sales Management Association, also cites a study with the same organization. The study surveyed 161 companies about their sales budget and found that those, which allocated more than 50% of their training budget to sales managers saw the greatest increase in sales and hence the most return on investment. The degree of return increases the more of the training budget is directed at the management team.
This assumes sales managers are concentrating on being teachers and given time and mandate to transfer their knowledge onto the frontline.
Naturally, the study does not suggest or target a complete abandonment of training for salespersons. For instance, sales will still be trained upon hire and be introduced to new products or versions. Importantly, the coaching will be administered by sales management. However, if one chooses to give this premise credence, one could justify its veracity by remembering that the concept of leverage applies here as it does to maintaining a partner or reseller channel for example. After all, companies maintain a reseller channel in order to scale in a way that they could not on their own. A sales manager works with multiple salespersons at the same time. More importantly, and again if you believe this study and I always recommend examining every piece of data meticulously, the proof is in the pudding i.e. the facts speak for themselves.
It would be useful now to get some feedback or thoughts from those affected – sales people and sales managers – and from sales trainers here. The implications are important as the sales budget and companies’ revenue depend on it.
Do you agree that a more effective training budget is better deployed on sales managers than on the frontline? It is certainly novel and food for thought.
*Things That Need To Go Away: Obligatory Sales Training With No Follow-up Or Carry-Through