Are Your Frontline Sales Managers World Champions?

5.12.16What is world-class? In sports, world-class is easily defined: it’s the world champion in any sports discipline and, of course, the Olympic medalists are world-class, always measured by outstanding performance.

Now, what does world-class mean when it comes to frontline sales management? Over the last couple of weeks, I have shared our CSO Insights frontline sales manager maturity model. We have discussed the details on the required level, the recommended level and the specifics regarding their role as collaborators, change agents, and communicators. What’s missing is a vision of what world-class frontline sales management could look like.

This clearly is about the ultimate level of ambition – nothing left to be achieved. But with such a vision in mind, it’s much easier to take the right next steps in the here and now regarding the required and the recommended maturity levels. And it’s also a call for your feedback and your thoughts.

The world-class maturity level refines the criteria of the recommended level into an adaptive approach that transforms managers into leaders who can develop high-performance sales teams.

To get there, it’s helpful to define your transformation journey. Here are five elements to develop world-class front line sales managers that leverage the CSO Insights FSM Capability Model and the Maturity Model. Please chime in and share your thoughts!

  • Hiring/promotion: World-class means that a sales manager role framework exists, distinguishing different sales manager roles, such as leading a territory, leading an industry, leading large accounts, leading a business development team, an inside sales team, or leading a solution sales or presales team. One capability model should exist with subsets for these different roles. Based on that, role-based promotion paths, talent search and hiring programs should be established. World-class managers should display a collaborative, sharing, learning, and transformational mindset that considers coaching as the number one leadership skill to leverage salespeople’s potential. Of course, don’t forget to look for a strong performance accountability attitude.
  • Enablement: This area requires a mature sales force enablement approach that addresses the frontline sales mangers as the key target group to drive adoption and reinforcement. Enablement teams provide an adaptive development program for the different sales manager roles as defined above, covering the different maturity levels people are currently operating on. Important to mention here is that such an FSM development program has to cover ALL areas of the FSM triangle: customers, business, and people. It’s much more than developing coaching skills.
  • Coaching, as a key element of any FSM development program, requires a certain approach to be classified as world-class. A world-class coaching framework (membership required) covers all relevant coaching layers: lead and opportunity coaching, funnel coaching, account and territory coaching, and coaching on skills and behaviors. For all these coaching layers, coaching guidelines and training services are implemented. Furthermore, such a coaching framework is aligned to the customer’s journey, and it’s designed to reinforce the enablement investments in content, training, and tools for salespeople. World-class coaching leverages the power of analytics-based technology to create more impact.
  • FSM Triangle: World-class frontline sales managers are fluent in ALL three areas of the FSM triangle: customer, business and people. Furthermore, all three elements are in balance and are considered as equally important when it comes to making decisions based on the sales organization’s goals and priorities, even if some decisions will be tough calls.
  • Focus, powered by analytics: World-class frontline sales managers are frontline leaders, clearly focused on the windscreen rather than on the rear-view mirror only. That means world-class frontline sales managers leverage the power of leading indicators and analytics along the customer’s journey, at each gate of their sales process. Because world-class knows that early coaching, powered by data on content usage, client interactions, client reactions, etc., creates the most impact.

World-class frontline sales managers leverage the power of a sales manager community to encourage exchange, collaboration, and further role development.

FSM communities help the profession to evolve and get better every day. So, the community idea makes world-class a highly adaptive approach. This frontline sales manager community also provides peer mentoring in addition to the development programs provided by enablement.

The world-class level thrives on a platform of scalability that has been built with the recommended level and evolves that to an adaptive level.

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