The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

17. How to Best Enable Your Front-Line Managers w/ John Kaplan

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Please note this episode was recorded prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

Front-line sales managers typically have one of the toughest jobs in the entire sales organization. 

 

Equipping them effectively takes a concerted effort. In this podcast, John Kaplan runs through best practices for helping them be successful, including: 

 

- How to help them develop an operating rhythm

 

- How to get beyond measuring success at the deal level

 

- The type of environment you need to foster

 

Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

 

Additional Resources: 

Blog: How to give effective feedback

Sellers get trained, executive teams get trained, but often the frontline managers left behind. You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. will feature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helps you fuel repeatable revenue growth presented by the team. If force management a leader in BTB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Welcome to the audible ready podcast. I am Rachel Clad Miller with force management. John Kaplan. How you doing today? I'm doing great, Rachel. How are you good today? We are talking about frontline managers. We often say it is one of the toughest jobs in the sales organization and at the same time these people are critical to high performance. Yeah, I think you're absolutely spot on on this one. You know, my experience and organizations is that everything goes through the frontline sales manager either becomes a huge...

...bottleneck with tons of pressure and stress, or the companies a line behind the knowledge of this and they and they make it just a smoother process. But you know another challenges. They're often the best salespeople but they haven't led teams before, so it's that transition from being a great individual contributor to now to being a great coach and and developer of talent. And so if you're managing managers, you know you're responsible for creating an environment where the frontline sales managers can thrive, and it's often missed in companies. Yeah, we don't want to just dump on the managers and make that our process of delegating. We often talk about providing the how for your reps in sales organizations. It's just important for your managers. So let's start here, John, by walking through how you, as a leader of the organization, can help your managers succeed. Yeah, again, you know, most sales organizations have tremendously high expectations...

...for their frontline sales managers. Like we said, everything goes through that kind of one way street. So key things you can do as a leader is to do these kind of things consistently. First is to show your commitment to their success, just acknowledging that that's probably the hardest job in the company and I kind of stand by that. I've always said that frontline sales managers, first line sales managers, I believe, are the toughest jobs in the in the company, but also define what success looks like for your frontline managers and make sure they understand that. Make sure they understand how they're going to be measured. And it's not just about sales results. Your sales results are just a measure of outcomes, and outcomes are impacted by the processes and tools you have in place to support your frontline managers. When we talk about management, and we always go to our gold standard tool, which is an operating rhythm. It's the term we use a lot, so I'll define it how we...

...see it. We see the operating rhythm is really being that cadence that defines what activities you, as a manager, need to be focused on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and so on. Think of it as your sales caids that ensures you're spending time what drives the desired results. So you're operating rhythm defines how you run your organization and it enables you to be prepared for what's coming next instead of constantly feeling like you're playing catch up. So when we look at an operating rhythm, we're basically telling managers that you have to have kind of command of two things. On the operating rhythm. You got to have command of your plan, and you've heard US talk a lot about the plan to make the plan. This is what I'm talking about. The Uber, the top level on an operating rhythm is got to have the ability to have command of your plan and you've got to the ability to have command of your talent. Those two things together should really represent an encompass what you're...

...focusing on in your operating rhythm. Yeah, so am I if I am, you know, I see John Kaplan in the airport and we're at a gate or something and as I want to make up my own operating rhythm and you're telling me to just really write down what do you need to do every week, what do you need to do quarterly, monthly, whatever? Take a step back, write those down and then ensure that you are focusing on those at the right time. Yeah, yeah, I mean I think it's it's exactly that the company has to belong, has to be aligned behind the critical things that you are calling out and your plan to make your plan the critical things that you're calling out and how you're going to manage your talent. And once we're all kind of agreed in a line behind that, you go execute against it. It's not that much more difficult than that. Yeah, we talked about I know and I write about the operating rhythm a lot. I talk about reducing administrative burdens and whether you've been a manager out there are not many of you have who are listening, you probably all have been in...

...those roles where you think all I do is push paper or just do this administrator stuff. I feel like I can't do what matters for the organization and that's what that's what we're talking about this case. Is such a good point, right because, like, if you do what you just suggested to do, you see me in the report and we say, Hey, let's just write out a Napkin and all the things that you know, you think you're doing and you're operating rhythm, and if they're not consistent. So I would expect to see what are we doing to for the command of the plan on the daily, monthly, charterly, what are we doing in that regard? What's The cadence around that? What is the cadence around recruiting, attracting and retaining top talent? What is the cadence around that? And it's not aligned, that's a huge issue. And if it's also ten pages long, you should be able to fit in operating rhythm on one page. And if it's if it's just could be another example of everything that we're trying to accomplish. This is for senior executives and companies. Listen to this point. When we...

...try to everything we're trying to accomplish, we do through the frontline sales manager. That's how operating rhythms don't fit on one page. So that's kind of our litmus test. We can't fit it on one page. It's an issue right. It's not a rhythm, it's a mess. So I want to bring this point up that we talked about. You brought up right at that at the top of the podcast, is that being a manager, or a great manager, is a learned behavior and you, as a sales leader, need to have the commitment to teach your managers to be great coaches because it is a learned behavior. Yeah, it's a really good point. I like how you said that a learned behavior, because sometimes it needs to be taught. So I can tell you this. The best frontline sales managers I have ever seen. We're all great coaches. So, beyond the operating rhythm, there are some things that we found really, really valuable to focus on when really thinking about training your managers and giving them skills so they can make this...

...a learned behavior. Things like, you know, how do we do deal reviews and Opportunity Coaching and qualification, you know, giving great feedback, you know, helping reps get high, wide and deep. You know, sellers don't need a manager WHO's not involved. They need a manager who will ask the hard questions. And the reason why this is so important is because one on a frontline manager. When I first become a frontline manager, it's probably because I was a great Rep. just because I was a great rep does not mean that I'll understand. I might have done a lot of this intuitively, and so if I'm unconsciously competent on things like do we really belong in this opportunity? Do we have the ability to win this deal? Where does this deal really stand in the customers buying cycle and what's required to move the deal forward more efficiently and effectively? So if these things are intuitive to the seller WHO's transitioning to be a manager, I remember it. For me it's a very, very difficult task to really focus on. How am I going...

...to coach and develop that? So let me just kind of summarize that. So frontline managers need to be able to understand how that the sect the deal and then put it back together and how to help their sellers qualified deals and move them down the road faster, and how to coach and develop sales reps to have a more effective value based conversations at all levels. So I want you know that's all a mouthful. And if you think that that's just going to happen like then a miracle happened because the seller went from a great seller, individual contributor to now we've tagged them as a manager. That's a huge, huge challenge that we see in a lot of companies. Yet there's some great value that can be gained by taking a step back and doing some training for these managers on what you need them to be focused on every day. No doubt it's an unfortunately it is normally the last population of people that gets trained. Yeah, but we have some great content also around giving feedback and...

I think that's sort of an underlying thing that you're talking about here. When you're trying to dissect a deal or trying to coach somebody success a lot of a big part of that is giving great feedback. So I'm going to link that in the show notes. So look for that and I think John is I'm here. You talking in a right as you talk, it sounds like that there's, if there's one thing to keep in mind as a sales leader when it comes to creating this great environment for success for your manager so they can thrive, it is really to be great at defining what success looks like for your managers. What does it mean when they're doing a great job? Yeah, it's really good point. So, like as a sales leader, for in this case we're talking about kind of a manager of frontline managers, you can't just gage success by looking at the individual deal level. At the same time, you can't just look at things from a broad revenue perspective. An important part of your success will come from examining your processes at the sales...

...team level. So it's part of your job as a sales leader to create the right environment so that frontline sales managers can successfully own the execution. So you'll always want to pay close attention to the relationship between the front line managers and their sellers and make sure you foster its success. So the seller manager relationship is built on the concept that the manager delivers value and that value comes in many forms and all forms are required to give sellers what they need to be successful. Yeah, you want to be able to deliver value to your teams and use a leader kind of at the Uber level. You want to make sure that you're continually nurturing that manager seller relationship. Yeah, right. A great relationship between your frontline manager and their sellers requires honesty and courage to have difficult conversations, and so some conversations don't feel so great to have,...

...but they need to happen anyway. And frontline sales managers need to know, and I used to say this to the reps that I was blessed to work with and in my career, it's okay not to have the answer, but it's not okay not to be doing anything about it, and I think that that that kind of is the summary of a great beginning. The premise of a relationship between a frontline man to turn the seller is when they know it's okay not to have the answers but it's not okay not to be doing anything about it. That's a very, very healthy theme or relationship between a frontline manager and a seller. It's good. I love that this is such a big and important topic and I think it's tough to I mean, we could sit here and talk about this for eight hours. But if there's one thing that you wanted people to take away from this podcast around this point, what would it be? Yeah, I think we covered a little bit, but sometimes the last people in organization to be trained are the frontline managers and we...

...see that as just such a such a big potential mistake. And Sellers get trained, executive teams get trained, but often the frontline managers left behind and you have to give them the skills required to transition from great individual deal contributors to great coaches and developers of talent. It's really really critical and often times it gets missed. I mean, we go in often and they want us to focus on the sellers and the only the sellers inside of an organization, and without great, qualified, trained frontline managers you're a risk. So that is the big takeaway I'd like people to listen to. If you're a frontline manager, demand your company help you transition to these skills. If you're managing managers, make your your people have these skills. If your companies out there, your executive teams, don't skimp on things like manager days and you know,...

...things like that that really help the sales managers become really, really effective at having commanded their plan and command of their talent. That's great, awesome. Thank you, John. You got it. My pleasure. Thank you all of you who are listening. We hope you're enjoying our newly formatted, audible, ready podcast. We are looking for people to give shouts out to. So if you know a rep, if you're a manager and somebody on your team, so many and your company has had a great month, the great quarter closed a great deal. Use the mantra in a way you never thought was possible. Let us know. Email us at podcast at force MANAGEMENTCOM. Thank you all for listening. At force management we're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience the proof is in...

...our results. Let's get started. Visit US at force MANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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