This blog contains content from Chapter 2 of our eBook - Coaching the Coaches: Five Lessons for Training Front-Line Sales Managers. Start from the beginning here.
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.” – Richard Branson
The average tenure for a front-line sales manager is 18 - 24 months. Sales managers might have been rock star sellers, but leading is a whole different ballgame.
Sales managers are not necessarily natural born leaders. They become leaders. Not by accident or luck, and not because they were good sellers.
They become leaders when they are trained to rise to the occasion. They become leaders when there is open dialogue at their companies about what it means to be professional sellers. And perhaps most of all, they become leaders when the leaders above them – the regional vice presidents and the heads of sales – take the time to train them and be role models for them.
The executive sales leaders – the leaders of leaders – set the tone of the entire organization. Leadership is not about what you do on stage, it's about what you do every day after that. What a leader focuses on is where their team will focus. That's why organizations do best when there's consistent focus on learning, development, improvement and mastery of skills.
The most important thing that top-level sales leaders can do to set the tone is to establish what’s called the management operating rhythm – and to communicate it regularly and abide by it consistently. The operating rhythm focuses your teams on the high-value sales activities that will help your sales organization drive desired results.
So if you are the head of sales, the vice president of sales for the Americas or chief revenue officer of your company, it’s your behavior that all of your sales managers are going to look at, model themselves after and stick around for. If all you do is continue to have forecast updates and ask why deals aren’t closing, none of your initiatives will work and nothing will change. Take time to define your Management Operating Rhythm and you’ll give managers and sales teams direction on where to focus their efforts and time.
As a sales leader, you have to make sure that all of your sales managers know what’s expected of them. Consider that adage about not training your people for fear that they will leave. Instead, think about what will happen if you don’t train them and they decide to stay?