Lately, we keep hearing time and again from customers that frontline sales managers are falling down at a pace that is clearly a four-alarm fire!
I back what people have been saying on podcasts and webinars I’ve engaged with about a management crisis, and agree with them. There’s no question that frontline sales managers – who typically started out as successful sales professional or industry experts – are failing at the responsibility of what a real frontline sales manager is supposed to do.
A frontline sales manager is not a CRM general – their job is not to make people enter notes in a CRM. The real responsibility of a frontline sales manager – who typically has 6-10 sales reps under them – is to be a coach.
Considering a football analogy, there are wide receiver coaches, linebacker coaches, quarterback coaches – each of those has 6-10 players under their responsibility – that’s what a frontline sales manager does. They become an expert in a territory or a vertical, and need to get the most of those 6-10 players – to coach them, motivate them, and inspire them, and teach them things they don’t already know. They need to pass on knowledge. In fact, knowledge transfer is their number one responsibility.
But the average frontline sales manager doesn’t know how to pass on knowledge about prospecting. They were a successful sales professional converted into a leader. Not only has their playbook evolved, the world has evolved, and the buyer has evolved. The frontline sales manager’s playbook is old – typically, they haven’t been in the field in a while. And so what happens is the coach begins to lose the understanding of how the game has evolved, how a buyer has evolved. And the playbook of phone calls and emails, and flights into the customer and face-to-face meetings – all of that is evolving so fast that the frontline sales manager can’t be a coach.
The solution? They need to go back to school. As coaches, they need to learn how to prospect in the 21 st century. If you’re going to focus on growth for the next year or couple of years, you can grow by (1) hiring open head count, and (2) creating more yield per seller – something that we believe in and that Sales For Life does very well.
But creating more yield per seller is correlated to the coach’s ability to get more yield per seller. You need to go back to prospecting school and find how modern, digital sellers are selecting, finding and engaging accounts in a way that was never taught to them in the past.
If you put the coaches through these coaching clinics, and give them the ability to master the art of prospecting, they’ll know why they need to ask questions in the 1-1, identify green and red flags, how to course correct and know what to look for. But the problem now, is that they don’t know how to make a course correction when a seller falls behind.