Focus on World-Class, Part 4: The Linchpin Role

In this 12-part series, each post examines one of the 12 best practices identified in the 2017 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Report. Today’s best practice: “Our sales managers are held accountable for the effective use of sales tools and resources by the sales force.”

Sales managers have the linchpin role in every sales organization. They have the highest leverage effect in sales because no other role leads six, eight, or ten salespeople directly. They are where the rubber meets the road, whether they lead a territory, an inside sales tem, or a business development team. This is why the frontline sales managers have a huge impact on how salespeople are doing, how they are performing, and how they are evolving in their roles. No other role is always in that kind of “sales rush hour,” or gets so many requests from almost every other department. For more details on the sales manager’s challenges, check out a few of the many blog posts I have written about this.

Now, let’s focus on the role’s key aspects that are connected to the top 12 practice we are discussing today: “Our sales managers are held accountable for the effective use of sales tools and resources by the sales force.”

World-Class sales managers effectively communicate the sales strategy to drive engagement and reinforcement

Part of a sales manager’s job is to communicate the business strategy in general, and the sales strategy in detail. World-Class sales managers know that implementing the sales strategy and achieving the desired results depends on their salespeople understanding the “why” and what’s in it for them.

World-Class sales managers know that they are most effective if they leverage the tools and resources that are provided

Leading a high-performing sales team requires sales manages to ensure a well-structured, focused and organized approach. World-Class sales managers make certain their salespeople are leveraging the tools and resources that are provided for them. These sales managers know from their own experience that productivity matters to achieve performance. And that means using the CRM, it means using the sales enablement platform, leveraging playbooks, messaging guidelines, taking relevant training sessions, etc. These sales managers also use their coaching sessions to coach salespeople on these behaviors. And most importantly, World-Class sales managers use these resources and tools themselves and lead by example.

World-Class sales managers proactively collaborate with sales enablement to ensure effective services

You can design a lot at your desk. But only when you are out in the field will you know if the shiny new objects are working. World-Class sales managers know that. This is why they actively collaborate with the sales enablement teams. They articulate specific challenges that have to be addressed by enablement, and they also volunteer for pilot groups. Whenever there is a pilot regarding, for example, a new value-messaging guide, they are actively working with their teams and with enablement to figure out what works and what needs to be adjusted.

Applying these behaviors doesn’t happen by accident. A dedicated sales manager enablement program – that is more than just coaching – is necessary for sales managers to be adequately developed for their challenging role. Because World-Class sales enablement leaders don’t forget to equip this lynchpin role. And last but not least, World-Class sales managers are not only measured and compensated by their results, but also how they get there.


  • How are your sales manager roles defined?
  • How do your sales managers drive adoption and reinforcement of provided resources and tools in their sales teams?
  • How do your sales managers collaborate with enablement and the other way around?


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