There’s no harder job in an organization than front-line sales manager, and that’s saying a lot, because there are a lot of hard jobs. In most sales organizations, great performance as a rock star seller correlates with future promotion to a sales management position. But unfortunately, here's how that scenario often plays out in sales.
Your top seller gets promoted to sales manager. But the skills that made him or her a great seller don’t translate to the ability to coach others to be successful sellers. As a result, their less-than-stellar performance in their new role as sales manager affects their team’s ability to close deals and make quota.
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.
For sales leaders and sales organizations, the Management Operating Rhythm is important. The operating rhythm is a major way that organizations support their sales managers. It drives the accountability that ensures your front-line sales managers focus on the activities necessary for repeatable success, and that they perform them consistently and at a high level.
Unfortunately, most companies don’t have a Management Operating Rhythm to make sure that their sales managers and their sales teams can be successful – and that’s a huge gap.
Great sales managers understand the difference between their number one goal and their number one job. While their number one goal may be to make the revenue number, their number one job is to develop people. To truly develop a team of people, managers have to be great at performing four distinct elements of a sales management role: Partner, Serve, Protect and Coach.
You know you need to better train and support your sales managers, so you’ve put some key elements in place. You’ve defined your management operating rhythm, so your sales managers know what is expected of them and their teams. They understand a defined sales cadence that directs who should do what and when. Your sales leaders have invested time and energy into being coaches, role models and leaders of leaders. Your sales managers feel supported and equipped to do their jobs.
Start coaching your sales managers to be the leaders your organization needs. Remember, you can’t scale your business if you don’t support and train your sale managers to be great coaches.