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So, what is the front line sales manager’s job?  Simply stated, it’s maximizing the performance of each person on their team.  The only way sales managers achieve their goals and make their numbers is by getting things done through their people.


In reality this is one of the toughest and most misunderstood things front line sales managers face.  Too often, they are put in the role, congratulated, and then immediately reminded their managers need updated forecasts within the next week.

Too often, we assume that people should just know what the job is.  After all, every sales person has worked for sales managers (good and bad), so isn’t the job of the sales manager immediately obvious?

As a result we set managers up for failure.  Sales managers, without better direction leap to conclusions about what their jobs might be:

They rely on their past experience as individual contributors, becoming super sales people, leaping into the most important deals, sweeping the sales person aside and doing the deal themselves.

Alternatively, they think their role is to “manage” sales people, dictating what they should be doing.

Or they think they can lead by sitting behind their desks doing endless analysis on CRM, somehow thinking that if they just looked at the data in a different way, somehow the secret to sales success will magically appear in the analysis.

Or, finally, they end up spending all their time in endless internal meetings with their peers, others in the organization, and their managers.   After all, isn’t that what managers do—sit in endless internal meetings?

It’s no wonder so many sales managers, while trying hard, fail to perform, ultimately, not meeting the goals they have set for their team and those their managers have set for them.

So, what is the front line sales manager’s job?  Simply stated, it’s maximizing the performance of each person on their team.  The only way sales managers achieve their goals and make their numbers is by getting things done through their people.

These seemingly simple statements immediately focus the role of the sales manager on their people—everything else is just a diversion.

Without each person on the team performing at the very top levels, it’s impossible for the manager to make her goals.  The math simply runs against them.  But what does this mean?

  1. First: The highest priority for sales managers is to work with their people, and the highest leverage activity is coaching their people.  If managers aren’t spending at least 50% of their time with their people, coaching and developing their capabilities, they won’t reach the levels of performance needed to achieve the goals.
  2. Second: The sales manager has to provide the training, systems, tools, processes, programs their teams need to maximize their performance.
  3. Third: The sales manager needs to “protect” their people from the rest of the organization.  I don’t mean this in a malicious sense, though too often sales people are inappropriately blamed for failures in revenue generation.  Today, however, the whole organization wants to “help” sales people—new product programs, new marketing programs, new customer experience…..The lists of things our organizations do in the name of “helping” sales people overwhelms them, makes things more complex, and distracts them from selling.  Sales managers need to protect their teams from the good or bad intentions of the rest of the organization.
  4. Finally: The manager must be sure she and her team are continuously learning and improving.  The worlds of our customers, competition, and our own organizations are changing so quickly, that we can become outdated and irrelevant unless we are constantly learning and improving. The front line sales manager role is the most important and most difficult job in sales.  If you are going to be successful as a sales leader, the only way you will succeed is by doing everything possible to maximize the performance of each person on your team.

 


About the author

David A. Brock

David A. Brock

Dave Brock has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He is viewed as…

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