Team sitting at table

Going Up! How Front-Line Sales Managers Can Enjoy More Success

In a recent conversation with a VP of sales they shared that “Sales managers have the hardest job on a sales team and the least amount of time. We put a lot on them.” Now that’s worth unpacking. What are you, the front-line sales managers (FMLs) asked to do?  

FLM’s have more reps to manage, more deals to shepherd, higher quotas to deliver, an increasing number of technologies to master, reports to pull, numbers to crunch, forecasts to make, recruiting and hiring to drive, special projects to deliver, and teams to participate in.  You and your peers are truly spread thin. Your primary focus is on hitting your revenue numbers and getting your boss the info he or she needs to roll up. As a result, coaching and employee growth often gets less attention than it needs or deserves. 

While this might work in the short term, it won’t work for the long game – for the reps, the FLM, or the organization. Productivity will suffer, participation will be lower than needed, reps will get frustrated, targets will be missed, and employee turnover will increase. SBI’s recent A-Player Retention Study shows that over half of in-seat sellers and 57% of A-Players are actively job searching.  So how do we break this vicious cycle and turn it into a virtuous one that lifts FLMs and their teams?   

We help elevate FLMs so they can become great coaches and leaders. Like everything else, it’s a matter of priority, discipline, and commitment.   

The first step is to reset your mindset: YOU CAN BE A GREAT COACH. YOUR REPS WANT YOU TO BE THEIR COACH. But how?  This series of blog posts will lay out the guiding principles. Coaching takes practice and building a coaching habit. So, let’s start the journey now. 

You’ve likely tried to coach your reps and maybe had a few good weeks where you were consistent, but then it fell off the priority list. Use the two exercises below to reframe your mindset and then you’ll be ready for the next blog about establishing the right process.   

Exercise #1: Establish a coach’s mindset  

Start by deciding you’re going to be a great coach – despite the time constraints. Develop the will to coach. How do you want your reps to remember you as a coach? What will they think about you, what will they say about you?  Write these down and put it somewhere visible. Expand on the list with other ideas of what you want them to think, feel, and say about you. These are the positive beliefs that will now guide WHY you are committed to becoming a great coach. This is your purpose.  

How to make this happen:  

  • Lean into the discomfort. Don’t be afraid of putting bold words out there.  
  • Think about what you wanted from your managers when you were a rep, what you got, what you didn’t get, and how you want to be there for your reps. 
  • Save your new positive beliefs and your purpose so you can reference it later.  

Exercise #2: Surround Yourself with Greatness  

Surround yourself with others who share your same purpose.  Within or outside of your organization identify 2-3 people who also want to focus on coaching, or someone who you believe is a great coach. Share your new goal with them and ask to meet once or twice a month. The goal of these meetings is for you to come away with new ideas and to feel inspired to continue the hard work of being a great coach. Remember the days when you would share a great sales win with a colleague?  Share a great coaching win with this group. That is a growth mindset: believing that abilities and traits can be developed and improved over time with effort and practice.   

 How to make this happen:  

  • Identify peers and possible mentors. Reach out and ask for their help and support. 
  • Again, schedule time or it won’t happen.  
  • Be honest with your peers or mentors.  They want the same things for you that you do and they know that there will be wins and losses, good times and bad and that you can celebrate the ups and smooth the inevitable bumps in the road. 
  • Consider sharing coaching wins more broadly when appropriate. Inspire others to prioritize coaching! 

This series of blog posts will lay out the process, key principles and approach for you the FLM, and your leaders, to elevate your coaching and realize the benefits.  

In our next post we will look more deeply at the factors preventing FLMs from being more effective with their coaching and show how we can start to fix them and reverse the cycle to a positive one.  

Want to learn more about improving your mindset beyond our coaching tips?  CoachEm highly recommends reading or listening to Carol Dweck’s Mindset. For further inspiration on becoming great coach, check out The Weekly Coaching Conversation by Brian Souza.  

At CoachEm we believe great sales reps CAN make great managers.