Lots of companies seem to forget that when you put the word "manager" behind a sales title, you’re asking folks to become a developer of people. Many times, companies don’t actually put the right processes and tools in place to help front-line sales managers drive success for their teams.
Here are four areas that sales organizations need to "get right" to support and guide sales managers to success:
The Right Metrics
Metrics are a great way to help gauge success for your front-line sales managers. The key metrics sales managers focus on will influence the day-to-day activities they direct with their sales teams. You can't ask sales managers to focus on metrics without giving them a clear line of sight into how their team is doing on their key areas of performance. The metrics you define for your sales teams will need to be customized, depending on the revenue and growth goals of your company. Sales leaders need to do a great job within their organization of defining the KPIs and metrics that indicate success. Some common metrics for team performance include:
Ramp-up time for new sellers
Reduction of your company’s sales cycle
The Right Resources
Another way to support front-line sales managers is to help them identify the resources that they need to successfully lead their sales teams. A common problem in many sales organizations is that front-line managers are expected to do too much. As a result, they are spread too thin and have a hard time moving the needle on sales activities that matter most. As a sales leader, one of the best ways to support your front-line sales managers is to be crystal clear about the priorities and expectations you have for their team. By providing clear directives, you'll be developing and enabling your sales managers to do their jobs with more confidence. You'll also be helping to reduce time spent on non-revenue producing activities that distract from supporting their sellers in the field.
The Right Operating Rhythm
To successfully lead their team of sellers, your front-line managers will need a sales operating rhythm to align their activities around critical elements of sales execution. A great management operating rhythm helps managers know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. An operating rhythm acts as a playbook for managers, defining the critical few sales activities that make the greatest impact on your bottom line. A strong and consistent sales cadence drives focus and results for sellers, front-line sales managers and your organization as a whole.
The Right Training
It's a difficult job to develop people. You can’t expect your sales managers to successfully develop their own team if your company doesn’t first invest in developing your sales managers. Great organizations recognize that there’s a difference between sales training and manager training. In the long run, great sales managers won’t work for a company that's not willing to train them. It all starts with defining the knowledge and skills you expect sales managers to have. Don’t make the mistake of rolling out a sales methodology and a sales process for your organization without first making sure your sales managers have the support and training they need to help their teams execute.
When you put a manager title behind any sales position, remember what it takes for organizations to truly align behind their success. As a company, commit to doing the work and making investments in programs, processes and tools that offer critical support to your front-line sales managers.