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

Episode · 7 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 Clap Miller and I'm the director of digital engagement at force management. I'm joined today for this podcast by Matt Jordan, who's the head of our product development. Say Hello, Matt. Hello, glad to be here. Matt has been through 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 line managers for success when it comes to a sales initiative. This point may seem obvious when you look at the big picture of a sales initiative, but often it can be very easily overlooked. Absolutely I think it's interesting that this is topic came up today, right, because we're focused a lot on working with our customers really helping those frontline managers be successful, because the reality is most organizations, 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 that they're focused on are what the event does...

...for their sellers. So whether the seller 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 what they often overlook is how do you really equip that layer of the organization that sits 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 or failure of these types of initiatives and so often we see companies that just ignore trying to make sure that they're either involved or that they're given the relevant tool 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 of time, there's a lot of resources, there's a lot of money going behind a sales transformation effort and if you bypass enabling those frontline managers, you're not maximize 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 typically quote right eighty the ninety percent of all...

...sales initiatives tend to fall on the shoulders of the frontline managers, and so eighty to ninety percent of your success is really going to be dependent on how well you equip them and really train them on how to lead this initiative from the front right. It's not just about putting them in training with your reps, it's what additional training are you going to give them? Because they're almost they're almost the insurance policy for the initiative. Right, you're going to spend all this money to your point, the effort up front, the time out of the field, the time out of 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 be effective right, we're almost doomed from the very beginning. So I look at the front line managers as that last line of Defense, the first line of Defense, however you want to define it, but they're the insurance policy. How well are they able to drive the initiative, drive to change and really lead their teams? That's going to what that's going to be with change is companies and organizations. When we talk about that insurance policy, if you think post sales initiative, if I'm a sales...

...executive and I'm looking at the numbers and maybe they're not really rare. I want them to be. A mistake I might make is to put the blame on those wraps and they probably shoulder some 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 about the evolution of that initiative, to what degree are you actually involved your managers in the process? Again, we talked about companies tend to focus on the training and then the outputs of training, but they don't spend a lot of time making sure that what goes into developing the training right are all of the right inputs and then the deliverables that we build are the right tools to allow us to actually drive the initiative. And so what we always try to make sure 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 their challenges are and how it relates to the initiative that you're trying to drive and then, as part of the engagement,...

...develop this specific tool sets necessary for them to be able to try it on before they have to get back in the office on Monday, but then get comfortable with it, because their ability to to translate it on Monday morning is why you either see the moot the 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 the skills or a lot of times even the practice right before we just throw them out there. And that's why I think a lot of companies come back six Thousix, thousndred and ninety hundred twenty days later and they go man, why didn't we get to where we thought we were going to go? And I typically go back and see, well, how well are we equipping those frontline managers 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 out of the field with our customers. And who's really giving them the giving them that coaching and reinforcement? So if I'm a sales executive position and I'm about to launch a sales initiative. I'm in the middle of sales initiative. You mentioned involving the frontline managers early. What...

...are some other checkpoints that I can put on myself to make sure that I'm doing what is necessary to enable those frontline 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 those inputs, their thinking about man what is this going to look like when I get back in front of my team? The likelihood of the content being built and it being relevant for your team is just going to skyrocket. But then also thinking about what additional training do they need? Again, if you think back to what we talked about earlier, a lot of companies put their managers and their sellers through the training for the very first time at this same time and they don't think about what additional skills are my frontline manager is going to need in order to drive this for me after training. So I think you got to make sure that they're one getting involved. That's just table stakes for any success initiative. But the second is also making sure it can't just be about 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 that they can be successful in helping those troops...

...make the transition and if they feel enabled, 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 a rep 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 of get sales but I don't really know what this looks like. I might be even timid to try it on. But if I can look at my frontline manager, right, my sales leader really leading from the front, showing me what this looks like when I get back in the field, it just helps me get through that fear and get over the hurdle a lot quicker. So it's just like our coaching model, right. The tell, show, observe and feedback. 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 have to be thinking, how about enabling them just as much as we're thinking about enabling 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 the way up. It's the second line managers, third lines, all the way up to your executive leader. How well are we equipping that sales organization to lead from the top down and really show our troops how they're going to do this when they get back in the field on Monday? That's going to move the 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 to promote the success of the initiative and that frontline manager can be a critical component 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 witness success, right, because they're either going to be, you know, in the passenger seat driving or before call or after call, talking about how well the call went. They're going to be...

...the ones working with the reps to sign 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 that helps get the rest of the organization to kind of make the leap and kind of get over the hurdle of the fear that typically comes out from trying something new. Yeah, it's success breed success. Absolutely, and I think you know one of the things you mentioned just a second ago, as well as a little bit of a Miss Number. We talk a lot about how do we help frontline managers inspect right or how do we review whether it's an opportunity or an account? And one of the things we're really trying to make sure we do, and we think it's critical for all managers, is to kind of get that out of our mindset. What we really should be doing is coaching. I mean, think about it. If I were to call it my rep and say hey, on Monday morning we're going to go through an opportunity 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 at those opportunity records, filling in all the blank holes because they feel like they're going to be held accountable on Monday morning and that's that's really not the intent of those types of interactions. What we want is that the sellers going to come prepared to talk about where the opportunity...

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

...some next steps. So we want to make sure that we think about enabling our front line managers to be those coaches and provide value every time they interact with the sales team and provide that environment where the sales rep feels comfortable to say, Hey, I don't know how to do this or hey, how am I going to get through that action 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 they were managers because we believe they've got the ability to help those reps get to a place they can't get to on their own. So while we think that's the 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 enablement will 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's all, ultimately, or most of it ultimately, is going to fall on the shoulders of your front line. So you got to make sure your laser focus that getting them a quipped to lead...

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

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