Front-line managers play an impactful role in driving your sales organization’s success. As a sales leader, it's critical that you show your managers support by helping them build their leadership skills.
Use Your Experience and Resources to Build Elite Sales Managers
There is no harder job in a B2B organization than that of a front-line sales leader. Not to say that nobody else matters, but when earnings are down and the stock price is falling, guess who's feeling the heat?
When you think about the roles of sales leaders within your organization, it helps to take a look through several different lenses. Each of these leaders play an important role in the sales organization’s success and ability to drive consistent revenue:
- Front-line sales leaders: those who work directly with sellers, account managers, account execs or SDRs
- Managers of sales pursuit teams: those who support sales and customer accounts
- Leaders of leaders: those who are VP-level sales leaders, regional leaders of sales and solutions engineers
While day-to-day functions may vary, each of these leaders wouldn't get to where they are today, without knowledge from past experience, success in a sales role and failures that they learned from. As a leader of leaders, your job should be to provide the support, tools and resources your sales managers can use to take their leadership skills to the next level. Just as you once did.
Help your managers provide value to your sales team. Lead the charge.
Characteristics of a Great Sales Manager:
These below characteristics provide a good starting point to focus on and ensure you're providing value to your sales management team. There's not a manager out there who doesn't want to provide more value to their people and get more from their sales team. Help them do it. Here are five areas to focus your sales managers on to help them hone their skill set and make an impact on their team's success.
- Always be coaching
Regardless of their sales experience, a great sales manager must learn to become a great coach. Like any sport, sales leaders are expected to teach skills and help people call the right play. Many new front-line sales managers land in this role because they were once an all-star seller. Unfortunately, top-of-the-line sales skills don't guarantee success in coaching others. Help your managers shift their definition of success — from that of an individual performer to that of a leader of a team.
Coach your coaches to make an impact on rep development and growth.
- Focus on support versus inspection
Great front-line sales managers become great by taking the word inspection out of their vocabulary. Instead of inspecting sellers and their deals, they become laser-focused on teaching reps how to qualify great deals. Then, these leaders maniacally focus on coaching sellers through the deal to success. To develop great front-line managers, it’s critical that companies give them the opportunity to become masters of a coaching environment.
- Create value with each rep interaction
Elite managers are conscious of the opportunity they have to teach their reps something with every interaction. Every conversation with a seller should deliver something of value to drive the next deal, to understand a new approach and/or to encourage a new skill. Help your managers focus on this concept. Here is a video on how managers can execute this action during opportunity coaching sessions. Share it with your managers.
- Move deals forward
When sales managers focus specifically on helping their sellers qualify great deals, every deal moves forward with more clarity throughout the sales process and every rep becomes better at doing what they do. Provide your managers with a cadence that allows them to stay aligned with their sellers throughout the sales process of each deal, providing support when necessary. Here is a cadence you may want to consider.
- Build repeatable sales skills
Good selling is good selling. The more front-line managers can coach reps on how to repeatedly execute the fundamentals of good selling, the more reps will be able to make an impact in every deal, using those skills. As sellers begin to master skills, great managers shift from “teach mode” to “reinforce mode” on that particular skill. Then, over time, they move that seller towards mastering a new skill at a higher level — then, rinse and repeat. Here are resources your managers can use to create consistency around developing and honing fundamental sales skills.
How the Best Companies Support Managers
Successful companies cultivate great sales leaders by providing training, education and development for every individual who takes on a manager role. Successful companies also foster an ongoing, open dialogue about what it means to be a professional seller as well as what it means to be a professional sales leader.
Ultimately, successful companies know that it takes an enabled sales management team to impact revenue and move the company forward. You can, too. See what you can implement to support your managers' success.