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

Episode · 6 years ago

Sales Executives: Enabling Your Front-Line Managers

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This podcast provides some best practices for equipping front-line managers during your sales initiative.

Hello, my name is Rachel ClapMiller and I'm the director of digital engagement at force management. I'm joined todayfor this podcast by Matt Jordan, who's the head of our product development.Say Hello, Matt. Hello, glad to be here. Matt has beenthrough countless sales initiatives with our customers. How many would you say that?Countless is probably the right way to describe right, but who is counting?Right? And today we're going to be talking about specifically enabling your front linemanagers for success when it comes to a sales initiative. This point may seemobvious when you look at the big picture of a sales initiative, but oftenit can be very easily overlooked. Absolutely I think it's interesting that this istopic came up today, right, because we're focused a lot on working withour customers really helping those frontline managers be successful, because the reality is mostorganizations, when they think about training or they think about a sales kickoff,they're really laser focused on the event, right, and then the outputs thatthey're focused on are what the event does...

...for their sellers. So whether theseller is going to drive better margins or the sellers going to drive more revenue. It's about the event in that outcome at the REP level, and whatthey often overlook is how do you really equip that layer of the organization thatsits between the executive whose initiative it is and the sellers who have to execute, really that layer of first line managers? They're so critical to the success orfailure of these types of initiatives and so often we see companies that justignore trying to make sure that they're either involved or that they're given the relevanttool sets to be successful once they actually get back in the office on Monday. I wouldn't company want is undergoing a sales initiative. There's a lot oftime, there's a lot of resources, there's a lot of money going behinda sales transformation effort and if you bypass enabling those frontline managers, you're notmaximize your funds and could waste waste a lot of resources. Oh absolutely.I can't remember exactly the report that says it, but I think we typicallyquote right eighty the ninety percent of all...

...sales initiatives tend to fall on theshoulders of the frontline managers, and so eighty to ninety percent of your successis really going to be dependent on how well you equip them and really trainthem on how to lead this initiative from the front right. It's not justabout putting them in training with your reps, it's what additional training are you goingto give them? Because they're almost they're almost the insurance policy for theinitiative. Right, you're going to spend all this money to your point,the effort up front, the time out of the field, the time outof the field for training, and then you're just going to send them back. But if we don't give those leaders in our organizations the tools to beeffective right, we're almost doomed from the very beginning. So I look atthe front line managers as that last line of Defense, the first line ofDefense, however you want to define it, but they're the insurance policy. Howwell are they able to drive the initiative, drive to change and reallylead their teams? That's going to what that's going to be with change iscompanies and organizations. When we talk about that insurance policy, if you thinkpost sales initiative, if I'm a sales...

...executive and I'm looking at the numbersand maybe they're not really rare. I want them to be. A mistakeI might make is to put the blame on those wraps and they probably shouldersome of the blame. But if you want to write the course and recalibrate, sometimes the area focus needs to be with those with those frontline managers.You know, the blame obviously can be placed in a couple different buckets,but what I would tell any sales manager would be if you think back aboutthe evolution of that initiative, to what degree are you actually involved your managersin the process? Again, we talked about companies tend to focus on thetraining and then the outputs of training, but they don't spend a lot oftime making sure that what goes into developing the training right are all of theright inputs and then the deliverables that we build are the right tools to allowus to actually drive the initiative. And so what we always try to makesure through our process to do is get those front line managers involved early,right as early as possible in the process, get their inputs, understand what theirchallenges are and how it relates to the initiative that you're trying to driveand then, as part of the engagement,...

...develop this specific tool sets necessary forthem to be able to try it on before they have to get backin the office on Monday, but then get comfortable with it, because theirability to to translate it on Monday morning is why you either see the mootthe needle move quickly or sometimes you don't see the needle move at all.It's because we're really not focused on giving that leadership team the tools or theskills or a lot of times even the practice right before we just throw themout there. And that's why I think a lot of companies come back sixThousix, thousndred and ninety hundred twenty days later and they go man, whydidn't we get to where we thought we were going to go? And Itypically go back and see, well, how well are we equipping those frontlinemanagers to drive it for us, because we get them for a day,maybe two days, but they spend the rest of their natural lives right outof the field with our customers. And who's really giving them the giving themthat coaching and reinforcement? So if I'm a sales executive position and I'm aboutto launch a sales initiative. I'm in the middle of sales initiative. Youmentioned involving the frontline managers early. What...

...are some other checkpoints that I canput on myself to make sure that I'm doing what is necessary to enable thosefrontline managers to drive success? It's obviously that early involvement right because again,if they draft into the end of the process well and they're giving you thoseinputs, their thinking about man what is this going to look like when Iget back in front of my team? The likelihood of the content being builtand it being relevant for your team is just going to skyrocket. But thenalso thinking about what additional training do they need? Again, if you thinkback to what we talked about earlier, a lot of companies put their managersand their sellers through the training for the very first time at this same timeand they don't think about what additional skills are my frontline manager is going toneed in order to drive this for me after training. So I think yougot to make sure that they're one getting involved. That's just table stakes forany success initiative. But the second is also making sure it can't just beabout this training event for the Reps. what additional training? What additional inside, what additional guidance are you going to give the front line managers so thatthey can be successful in helping those troops...

...make the transition and if they feelenabled, they're going to drive success for you. Oh, absolutely, absolutely, they're going to be the primary drivers of that success. Because I'm arep right, I'm going to go through. You Take Command of the message.This is a brand new methodology. A lot of times I kind ofget sales but I don't really know what this looks like. I might beeven timid to try it on. But if I can look at my frontlinemanager, right, my sales leader really leading from the front, showing mewhat this looks like when I get back in the field, it just helpsme get through that fear and get over the hurdle a lot quicker. Soit's just like our coaching model, right. The tell, show, observe andfeedback. If you think about most trainings that sales organizations go through,the best you can do and those one or two days is simply tell.So who's actually going to show the reps how to actually applied in the field? Well, it's got to be your frontline managers. And so we haveto be thinking, how about enabling them just as much as we're thinking aboutenabling the reps. and it goes all...

...the way up the food chain,right. It doesn't just start or stop with frontline managers. It's all theway up. It's the second line managers, third lines, all the way upto your executive leader. How well are we equipping that sales organization tolead from the top down and really show our troops how they're going to dothis when they get back in the field on Monday? That's going to movethe neither. We talked a lot about inspecting, reinforcing, writing the course, correcting bad behaviors and that laying on the responsibility of the frontline managers.But with us, with a sales initiative, it's always it's just as critical topromote the success of the initiative and that frontline manager can be a criticalcomponent to sharing the success of people who are using that methodology in the field. They are probably going to be the first people in your organization to witnesssuccess, right, because they're either going to be, you know, inthe passenger seat driving or before call or after call, talking about how wellthe call went. They're going to be...

...the ones working with the reps tosign the deal, so they've got to be involved in understanding. You know, take those pockets of success that we have early, socialize them and thathelps get the rest of the organization to kind of make the leap and kindof get over the hurdle of the fear that typically comes out from trying somethingnew. Yeah, it's success breed success. Absolutely, and I think you knowone of the things you mentioned just a second ago, as well asa little bit of a Miss Number. We talk a lot about how dowe help frontline managers inspect right or how do we review whether it's an opportunityor an account? And one of the things we're really trying to make surewe do, and we think it's critical for all managers, is to kindof get that out of our mindset. What we really should be doing iscoaching. I mean, think about it. If I were to call it myrep and say hey, on Monday morning we're going to go through anopportunity inspection, what's the rep going to spend all week in thinking about?They're going to be thinking about getting into sales. For us, looking atthose opportunity records, filling in all the blank holes because they feel like they'regoing to be held accountable on Monday morning and that's that's really not the intentof those types of interactions. What we want is that the sellers going tocome prepared to talk about where the opportunity...

...is, but what they're going tobe looking for from our managers is guidance right and so if we leave itas opportunity inspection or account inspection, were missing most of the value of thoseinteractions. It comes from the coaching. So it's got to be about me, as a frontline manager, understanding the methodology, understanding the initiative, butthen using it in a way that provides value to my sellers. So it'snot about taking the boxes, it's not making sure that everything's filled out insales. For us, it's about making sure we understand where the great opportunitieswe still have in front of us where we can drive tons of value inthe deal and not letting the REP leave those interactions without really understanding how todo it right, because another thing I see a lot of times when Italk to sales managers is they get to the end of those types of conversationsand they build an action plan right next steps for how we're going to getit done. But when you ask them about whether or not the seller canactually do those things, that got no idea because it didn't spend time inthis session giving the coaching. They just did an inspection, got to theend as quickly as possible and shout out...

...some next steps. So we wantto make sure that we think about enabling our front line managers to be thosecoaches and provide value every time they interact with the sales team and provide thatenvironment where the sales rep feels comfortable to say, Hey, I don't knowhow to do this or hey, how am I going to get through thataction step? What can you do to help me? Absolutely, I mean, why else did we put these guys in that position in the first place? Right, we put them in that front line and we told them theywere managers because we believe they've got the ability to help those reps get toa place they can't get to on their own. So while we think that'sthe case, we also have to make sure that we are enabling that,in enforcing that case so that they can help the reps learn and that enablementwill really drive the success with your sales initiative, your sales organization and overall, anything you're doing within a company, Sales Initiative, change management, it'sall, ultimately, or most of it ultimately, is going to fall onthe shoulders of your front line. So you got to make sure your laserfocus that getting them a quipped to lead...

...from the front Monday morning. Leadfrom the front on Monday morning. Let's end it there. Thank you somuch, Matt Jordan. Thank you all for listening. Be sure to connectwith force management on Linkedin and twitter, subscribe to our blog on force managementcom.

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