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So what if you allocated more of your sales training budget to your bank’s sales managers, taking some of what you currently spend on programs for your front-line sales team and investing more in their coaches? Would that improve your results?
It’s not what most banks have done historically. When the Executive Team at a community or regional bank spots a revenue problem, their knee-jerk reaction is often to schedule more sales refreshers for salespeople. Sales management training is an afterthought, usually included  after the Training Director or outside consultants insist on a (very abbreviated) Executive Overview so that sales managers “know what’s being discussed” in the sales training sessions. 

Research from The Sales Management Association suggests that a better move would be to start with your sales managers. In a blog post entitled New Research Points to a Crazy Strategy: Stop Training Sales People ,  Jason Jordan, a partner at Vantage Point Performance and the lead consultant in the study, makes a strong case for investing in sales management training before embarking on additional sales workshops for the troops. The results of their study of 161 businesses were clear: the more money that companies spent on sales management training, the greater the likelihood that they met their sales goals.

Jordan acknowledges that salespeople still need to be trained on an organization’s sales process and products. But what the research reveals is that “the sales manager is where organizations get the greatest return on investment. When managers are more skilled at coaching and developing their people, they can leverage that knowledge across their entire team.”

The economics of focusing on sales leaders are compelling. In most banks we work with the ratio of salespeople to sales managers ranges from 5 to 1 in commercial banking to 10 to 1 in small business banking and 15 to 1 in branch banking. The all-in costs of creating a strong cadre of sales managers would be significantly lower than what it would take to develop all the sales team.

Again, nobody is suggesting that you jettison all sales training. Your bankers need to continue to develop their skills to remain competitive. But rather than an add-on module to a new sales program, sales management training deserves a bigger place in your talent development strategy. When coupled with ongoing coaching for sales leaders, the results can be impressive.

Bank sales leaders: Have you tried this somewhat counterintuitive approach? If yes, what has been the result? Make your comments in the space below or email me at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

Interested in discussing how this strategy might fit in to your budget for 2018? Call Ned Miller at 484-433-2378.

Here is another article on sales leadership that might be of interest to you:
7 Sales Leadership Rituals that Matter