How to Create a Strong Blueprint for Your Sales Management Team
Sales managers deserve support from your organization. After the launch of a strategic initiative or sales kickoff, managers can have a significant impact on rep adoption and growth, but their success will relate back to how well they were supported.
Start with a clear definition of what good looks like for your front-line managers as they reinforce current initiatives and build top performers. Great companies start with a strong blueprint that includes the processes and tools that enable sales managers to drive success at the team level.
Implement a Process for Building Strong Territory and Account Plans
Sales managers who become masters at sales planning and execution do an excellent job helping sellers develop great territory and account plans. Whether a territory is based on geography or a list of accounts, it’s a sales manager’s role to help sellers understand what constitutes their territory, as well as where the white space is within it. Typically, within a territory or geography, front-line managers need to help sellers prioritize a list of top-tier accounts and then create strategic plans to execute against those accounts. A strong blueprint for territory and account planning helps sales managers define priorities, expand coverage and drive success for each seller in their designated market. Here is a results-driven sales planning approach to share with your sales team.
Define Customer Landscapes
Great sales execution requires managers to teach their sellers the importance of navigating customer landscapes within each account. It’s important that companies support sales managers and sellers with a disciplined approach for uncovering company landscapes. When sellers understand customer landscapes, they are better able to navigate successfully through critical dynamics that are in play.
The Business Landscape:
When sales managers teach sellers to consider the business landscape, they’re helping them learn how to define the customer’s business model:
- How do they go to market?
- What trends are going on in their industry?
- How are divisions structured within the organization?
The Political Landscape:
Teaching sellers to consider the political landscape means helping them understand what the organizational chart looks like. Understanding the political landscape starts with defining what roles and people will be key influencers within the organization. Navigating the political landscape helps sellers identify and develop champions inside their accounts. The most elite salespeople know that to be successful in an account, they need to develop a champion — someone on the inside, who will fight on your behalf, even when you’re not there. If your managers are focused on building a team of elite salespeople, they'll work with the individuals on their team to ensure deals are not moving forward without a designated champion. In this podcast, John Kaplan covers a great analogy on this topic as it pertains to not moving your deal forward unless you’ve solidified a champion. Share this episode with your managers so they know how to strategically coach their people on navigating the political landscape within customer organizations.
The Competitive Landscape:
Sales managers who drive great execution teach their teams to identify the competitive landscape. This means knowing who your competition is within the account and defining a success strategy to pursue the account, based on your solution's business value and differentiation. Help your sales managers and reps understand how to navigate deals against tough incumbents and competition so they can stack customer requirements in their favor and win more. Here's a resource worth passing along.
Provide a Consistent Sales Operating Rhythm
To fuel the success of a priority initiative or support managers in building a team of elite salespeople, one of the most critical areas that a sales leader can impact is the alignment between sellers and their front-line sales managers. Improve and influence manager-to-seller alignment by creating a cadence around great communication between your managers and sellers. Give your sales managers an operating rhythm they can use to align their salespeople 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. This operating rhythm acts as a playbook for managers, providing guidance on the critical sales activities that make the greatest impact on your bottom line. The right management operating rhythm drives accountability and helps your front-line managers focus on the activities necessary for repeatable success.
Support Managers in Building Top-Performing Salespeople
To build great front-line sales managers, start by building a great foundation for their success. That foundation requires organizational leaders to be intentional about providing the right mindset, processes and tools to support sales managers and their teams. The first step is to get honest about what your organization is doing, especially heading into a new year or quarter. Then, help your sales managers drive success in their role through purposeful resources and support. Once you know what's working and what's not, you can get focused on filling the gaps to help your front-line managers make a bigger impact on sales performance this year.