Thanks to people like Mike Kunkle, Tamara Schenk, Jason Jordan, Mike Weinberg, and others; the importance of Front Line Sales Manager Enablement is getting some visibility–though still not enough. As they discuss and I’ve discussed in past posts and Sales Manager Survival Guide, the single biggest lever on front line sales performance is the Front Line Sales Manager.
It’s the FLSM that provides the day to day support, coaching, reinforcement, and leadership to maximize the performance of each person on their team. Without their continued reinforcement of training, systems, tools, programs–most of our sales enablement initiatives would be unsustainable. We wouldn’t achieve the levels of consistent performance we need or should be getting out of those initiatives, instead we’d be wasting thousands to millions dollars/euro/yuan/rupees/etc. It’s the FLSM that translates our business and sales strategies to day to day execution by the sales teams.
Finally, we are beginning to recognize that we need to invest in those Front Line Sales Managers–enabling them to do their jobs at the highest levels possible.
There is an increased focus on FLSM training. Execs are recognizing they need to train their Front Line Sales Managers on coaching, performance management, and any number of skills. But simply sending a manager to a training program on coaching is insufficient.
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We need to do more.
First, senior executives need to continually coach and develop their Front Line Sales Managers. Just as we know the importance of continued coaching and development of our sales people, without senior executives coaching their managers, these managers will never develop to their full potential. (Naturally, what we coach these managers on is different than what we coach sales people on.)
With every new initiative, we need to focus on enabling managers to support, coach, and reinforce that initiative. If we are doing new product training, we need to enable the managers on their role in reinforcing and coaching it. If we are implementing a new sales initiative, we need to enable the manager in their role in making sure their people are executing it well. If we are introducing a new tool or process, we need to train the sales manager helping them understand how they can use that tool/process to improve their own productivity/performance and how they should be supporting their people in leveraging that tool as well.
Just as we think of sales person enablement including training, programs, processes, systems, tools, metrics, and coaching. We need to mirror FLSM enablement with training, programs processes, systems, tools, metrics, and coaching.
Just like selecting the right sales people is critical to their success in our organizations, selecting the right managers is critical to their/our success in driving sales performance.
Just like we need to set clear performance expectations/metrics with our people, we need to set clear performance expectations/metrics with our managers. And as we see performance issues, we must work with them to improve performance.
Just as our people expect personal development and growth, our managers have similar aspirations. It’s the responsibility of senior management to understand and develop their managers to step up to greater responsibilities.
We will never optimize the performance of our sales people until we start optimizing the performance of our FLSMs. Just as with sales people, we never achieve this in a single training event, we need to look at FLSM enablement as an ongoing process led by senior management.