How important are front-line sales leaders to the execution of your sales initiatives? Absolutely critical. Of course, it sounds like common sense when you say it, but many companies still don’t understand how to support their front-line managers in a way that truly supports success.
If you’re a sales leader, you’re responsible for creating an environment where front-line sales managers can thrive. If you define what success looks like for your front-line managers and then give them the tools to execute against that definition of success, your sales team will be standing on a much stronger foundation.
Your sales organization needs to make sure front-line sales managers know these things:
- How your company defines success for the role of a front-line sales manager
- How you run the business, the tools that you use, the methodologies you believe in
- The operating rhythm that directs your most critical sales activities
- What you expect of sales leaders and their teams
- Your commitment to their success as an individual
Show Your Commitment
It’s important that your front-line managers understand that you are committed to their success. If you care about the individual success of your leaders, you’ll drive success for your organization. If you define what success looks like for your front-line managers and then give them the tools to execute, your sales teams will be built on a strong foundation.
Most sales organizations have tremendously high expectations of their front-line managers. Front-line sales managers are the ones sales leaders look to when they ask the question, “Are we going to make our number this quarter?”
Your sales results are just a measure of outcomes. And outcomes are impacted by the processes and tools you have in place to support your front-line managers. Maybe it’s a good time to look at your processes to support front-line managers. If you have great processes, you'll drive great results.
Establish a Sales Operating Rhythm
A successful front-end process is driven by your operating rhythm. It outlines actions and expectations for everyone involved in the sales process. A great sales cadence will help define the right hand-off points and indicators that need to be in place to move deals forward. Your operating rhythm defines how you run your organization and enables you to be prepared for what's coming next, instead of constantly feeling like you're playing catch up.
Focus on Your #1 Goal Versus Your #1 Job
Most sales leaders would say that their number one goal is to make the revenue number, but what would they say their number one job is? Your number one job as a sales leader should be to make sure your front-line sales leaders have the skills they need to coach their teams to success.
Front-line managers need to understand (1) how to dissect a deal and then put it back together, (2) how to help their sellers qualify deals and move them down the road faster, and (3) how to coach and develop sales reps to have effective, value-based conversations.
Be Great at Defining Success
As a sales leader, you can’t just gauge success by looking at the individual deal level. At the same time, you can’t just look at things from a broad revenue perspective. An important part of your success will come from examining your processes at the sales team level. It’s part of your job as a sales leader to create the right environment, so that front-line sales managers can successfully own the execution.
You'll also want to pay close attention to the relationship between the front-line managers and their sellers, and make sure you foster its’ success. The seller/manager relationship is built on the concept that the manager delivers value. That value comes in many forms. All are required to give sellers what they need to be successful:
- Sellers don’t need a manager that expects them to come in and report the news, they need a manager who will help them make the news.
- Sellers don’t need a manager who closes deals for them, they need a manager who will teach them how to close deals on their own.
- Sellers don’t need a manager who's not involved, they need a manager who will ask the hard questions:
- Do we really belong in this opportunity?
- Do we have the ability to win this deal?
- Where does this deal really stand in the customer’s buying cycle?
- What's required to move the deal forward more efficiently and effectively?
Nurture the Manager/Sales Relationship
A great relationship between your front-line manager and their sellers requires honesty and courage to have difficult conversations. Some conversations don’t feel so great to have, but they need to happen anyway. Front-line sales managers need to know that it’s okay to have some fear. What’s not okay is to be afraid and then do nothing about it.
Build Confidence and Conviction
Front-line managers play a critical role in your company’s success and they’ll need a lot of help along the way to move them towards success. As a sales leader, make sure you arm them with the right mindset, processes, tools and content to tackle their jobs with confidence and conviction.