How to Lessen the Burden on Your Front-Line Managers
Categories: Front-line Managers
The Force Management team is passionate about enabling managers. I solicit content ideas repeatedly from our sales experts and the number one topic they always send back my way is manager enablement. The reason why? They see that challenge consistently in the marketplace. Too often, organizations align the executive team and then roll out initiatives at the rep level without investing in the managers.
Your front-line managers are the lynch pin to increased sales productivity. Their your boots on the ground, the group of people who ensure that the deals are closed, margins preserved and revenue numbers are met repeatedly. Many sales organizations make the mistake of telling managers what to do, without telling them how to do it. They're told the metrics they need to hit, without a mechanism to get there. They're charged with coaching their team to success, while managing the administrative duties necessary to report up in the organization. The job isn't easy, but the more time they have to spend on those high-value sales activities, the more efficient and effective your entire sales organization will be.
Below are some key steps to take that will lessen the burden on your front-line managers:
It seems simple, but you can't underestimate the power of an entire organization speaking in the same language. Our customers use a Value Messaging Framework to drive this consistency with terms like negative consequences, positive business outcomes, and required capabilities. But, whatever terms you use to describe a customer's current state, future state and what's required to get there - consistency in language ensures your managers can efficiently coach a rep through an opportunity. It makes pre-call planning, role plays and debriefs much more effective because everyone is operating with the same framework.
Your managers need a way to ensure your reps are working on the right deals and not wasting time on the wrong ones. A defined qualification process (like MEDDICC) moves deals forward faster and more efficiently, but perhaps more importantly it allows your managers to forecast accurately. If you don't have a qualification process that's used across your sales organization, you're missing an incredible opportunity to improve your sales results.
A Management Cadence
The amount of time your front-line managers waste just trying to keep up with the forecast is valuable time they can't spend helping their team sell.Your front-line managers need a cadence that allows them to spend their valuable time on the critical activities that move the needle. A Management Operating Rhythm® does just that. It gives them the cadence and process around repeatedly executing:
- Territory Reviews
- Account Reviews
- Opportunity Reviews
- Forecast Reviews
- Active Sales Call Participation and Feedback
Remember, it doesn’t matter how many reviews you do with someone, if there’s no focus on executable action, there is no value within the sales team. An operating rhythm helps the sales leader drive that action.
When everyone is using the same Management Operating Rhythm®, they’re all speaking the same language. Everyone knows the benchmarks they need to focus on to create success. As a result, your front-line managers are less burdened and there’s consistency throughout the sales organization. Your sales managers then have the opportunity to become sales leaders. Instead of being caught up in compliance exercises, everything they do has value attached to it.
A Coaching Framework
All sales reps aren't the same and therefore they can't be coached the same. The best managers have a framework that gives them the ability to meet their team members where they are. Our clients use a Skill/Will model that directs them how to coach their own salespeople to success. It’s effective because it gives them a tool to (1) rate sales people based on their skills and motivation and (2) use that information to coach them to success.
Involve them in Initiatives
Don't let initiatives happen to them. Make sure initiatives happen with them. It's one of the best ways you can help your front-line managers stay involved and engaged. Manager involvement will also make it easier for them to coach reps to whatever process you're rolling out, if they had a hand in creating it.
Enable your front-line managers to spend their time creating value for the company. Don’t make them run interference. Don’t pile on. Help them focus on the right activities and become leaders. As a result, your sales organization will generate more revenue and more repeat business.