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What's the Most Important Role of Front-Line Sales Managers?

Nov 23rd, 2015

One of the core goals of any sales enablement strategy or technology is to put salespeople in better position to have more successful sales conversations. But with so much focus always being placed on the reps, it can be easy to overlook the needs of the people managing them.

And it happens all the time.

The problem with that, of course, is that front-line managers are a critical part of the sales enablement story.

“Front-line managers have the highest effect in any sales organization,” says Tamara Schenk, research director at CSO Insights. “Just think about how many salespeople they lead on average. Why wouldn’t you invest in the front-line sales managers first, knowing that this investment can impact six to 12 people?”

This quote comes from a recent Brainshark-Forbes Insights study on what leading companies do to drive sales productivity. The report – which surveyed over 200 executives – finds that “coaching and mentoring” is in fact the most important role front-line sales managers play. This is followed closely by providing ongoing support for sales activities.

The problem of course, is that just because a manager was once a great sales rep, doesn’t mean he or she will be a particularly effective coach once they’ve been promoted. That’s why sales managers on the front-line need continuous support and training, just like the reps that report to them.

“Who’s coaching the coach?”

That question was asked by Walter Rogers, CEO of CloudCoaching International, during a panel discussion at Dreamforce ’15.

“We’re taking managers, and putting them through these one-day coaching programs, or a few days, and we expect them to be good coaches,” he explained. “If people forget 90% of what they learn in a workshop, how is someone going through a coaching program going to magically become a coach? It’s not naturally a skill for people to begin with.”

So what can organizations do to help managers coach more effectively? Check out the full video below for insights from Walter and Sharon Little of SiriusDecisions. You can also download the full report, The Power of Enablement: Bridging the Sales Productivity Gap, for more on how leading companies address the sales productivity problem.

Looking to drive sales productivity at your organization? Learn more about how Brainshark can help.