David Brock offers a solid manual of basic advice for new front-line sales managers.
Front-Line Sales Managers
Salespeople need experienced front-line sales managers who can clear obstacles from their path and efficiently direct their sales efforts. David A. Brock’s solid sales manager’s guidebook teaches new sales managers how to get the results they need by running their teams more effectively. He also provides a rundown of the best sales management practices.
As Brock emphasizes, front-line sales managers are vital to their companies’ success, as indicated by the designation “front-line.” These managers translate their companies’ sales strategies and programs into the essential day-to-day activities of their teams of salespeople.
The front-line or first-line sales manager is one of the most important and most difficult jobs in sales.David Brock
Think of your company’s front-line sales managers as the “sergeants of today’s sales armies.” They provide crucial guidance, direction and assistance to the salespeople in the trenches.
Inspire and Motivate
Sales managers should not tell salespeople what to do. They won’t react well to heavy-handedness. Avoid hiding behind your desk and filling out reports. You’re not a clerk; you’re a manager.And, don’t sell for your salespeople. You don’t have time to both manage them and do their jobs. They can close their own contracts. Don’t be a superhero popping in at the last minute to close their deals.However, front-line sales managers must occasionally accompany salespeople on their calls to reinforce lessons learned during sales training.
When you hit a problem with a salesperson, stop and compose your strategy. Take action only after careful consideration. Identify your team members’ individual plusses and minuses to maximize their assets and minimize their liabilities. Provide “the right systems, tools, processes, programs and training” to your salespeople.Feel good about who you are and what you’re accomplishing. Front-line sales managers are vital to their organization’s success.
To be a great manager and leader, you have to commit yourself fully to coaching and developing your people, getting things done through them.David Brock
How well salespeople perform often depends on how well their sales manager coaches them. Good sales coaching can maximize each person’s performance. Coaching prioritizes getting salespeople to view their sales calls analytically, to judge what’s underway during a sales meeting and to be alert to alternative paths to their goals. Coaching is a continual, ongoing activity.
Because peak performance is critical in sales, individual performance reviews are essential management tools. Front-line sales managers generally write these reviews and share them with the people on their teams.
Performance reviews are meaningless unless they derive from specific “performance expectations,” which you can communicate either informally or formally. Create an individual performance plan for each salesperson. Define “performance responsibilities,” such as meeting a quota, filling a prospect pipeline and supporting customers. State exactly how you want the salespeople to represent the company. Establish an “evaluation scale. For example, use a one-to-five scale to express how a salesperson has performed, with five for well above expectations and one for well below expectations.
You are your own best manager. Be smart about how you allocate your time. Take advantage of any professional-development programs your company offers. Constantly seek new ideas, new ways of thinking and new sales strategies.
Conduct quarterly one-on-one performance reviews with each salesperson. Focus on how well the salesperson executed his or her agreed-upon performance plan.
Sales management is a thinking person’s job. There is no magic, there are no tricks or techniques, there are no shortcuts. You have to do the work.David Brock
Performance reviews recognize superior individual performance and identify areas where the salesperson needs to improve. The review is a conversation that actively engages the front-line sales manager and the salesperson.
To gain salespeople who earn top performance reviews, recruit and hire the best candidates. Never rush your recruiting and interviewing process. Take the time you need to find and hire excellent salespeople.
When Strategy meets Sales
Consider your company’s strategic position in regard to the sales department.
What is the organization’s attitude toward its customers? What do customers think of the company? How does the company establish and create value for its customers?Does the company differentiate itself and its offerings? Does it have an ambitious expansion strategy?How can it maximize its sales productivity? And, how do the answers to these questions affect your sales team?
Wishful thinking is not a problem-resolution approach.David Brock
Front-line sales managers can expect problems. The best preventative measure is to fix small issues before they become major obstacles. Don’t avoid challenging situations. Problems you duck will only get worse.
Front-line sales managers and salespeople who don’t feel the company treats them fairly will look for better opportunities elsewhere.
People – their knowledge, experience, capacity to innovate and contribute – is the single most important part of the organization and its ability to grow, innovate and thrive. People are the ultimate and most sustainable differentiator.David Brock
Avoid factors that drive attrition, such as a flawed business model, sales strategy, or other corporate mistakes or failures. Managers will leave if their bosses don’t pay attention to market forces and shifts, can’t match the competition’s compensation, or don’t engage effectively with prospects and customers.
If you are the executive supervising a sales department, generate a professional development plan for all your employees and managers. Teach front-line sales managers to recruit and hire good salespeople, handle performance expectations and management, develop team members’ skills, coach salespeople, and manage difficult staffers and clients.
David Brock is straightforward. He offers a no-frills manual for new front-line sales managers and then runs down the relevant management basics in simple language and well-organized, brief chapters. New sales managers will benefit from his grounded, professional guidance. He describes the world of sales management – with all its issues, responsibilities and rewards – for salespeople promoted from the field into management. Brock will allay new managers concerns with this clear, direct path to sales management success.
Other books on front-line sales managers include Sales Management for Dummies by Butch Bellah, Sales Management. Simplified: The Straight Truth about Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team by Mike Weinberg and Nuts and Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization by John R. Treace.