More on the Frontline Sales Manager’s Recommended Maturity Level: Communicators, Change Agents and Collaborators

3.31.16Last week, we discussed how to evolve frontline sales managers from the required maturity level to the recommended maturity level. This step is all about developing individual effectiveness in frontline sales managers, who can then contribute to organizational effectiveness. They do this by stepping into a broader approach to coaching on two levels. One is that coaching encompasses lead and opportunity coaching, funnel coaching, account and territory coaching, as well as coaching on skills and behaviors. Two is that such a coaching approach covers the entire customer’s journey.

Today let’s look at the two roles frontline sales managers have to develop in parallel: communicator and change agent, and collaborator and escalation manager.

Frontline sales managers are the key communicators and frontline change agents when it comes to sales strategy, execution and transformation

Sales strategies can only be implemented successfully if the sales force has a clear understanding of the goals and the strategies to achieve them. No doubt, the sales leader’s strategy announcements and communications are essential.

Making sure that the sales strategy is completely understood in the field and broken down to the sales team’s specific context is the job of the frontline sales manager. That’s where the rubber meets the road, where the role of the communicator meets ensuring proper execution. Applying the sales strategy to one’s own sales team, making the strategy specific and concrete with dedicated and focused actions to be taken, is the key to success. It tackles all areas of the frontline sales manager triangle. These specific actions can be very different depending on the sales team’s context, which can be, for instance, a territory, industry, or a strategic account, in a saturated market or a newly emerging region. The most important job on the front line is breaking the sales strategy down to the sales team’s specific context, developing collectively those specific goals and actions to get the sales team’s full commitment. That’s in terms of strategy communication, and that’s a leadership role.

Whenever there is sales transformation connected to the sales strategy, the additional role of a change agent comes into play. In this case, frontline sales managers have to make sure that people understand the need for the transformation, the WHY. It also means collaborating closely with enablement to make sure that they are well equipped regarding content, value messaging and training (WHAT). The frontline sales manager’s coaching sessions have to cover all areas mentioned here with a focus on the specific transformation needs, mainly in the area of skills and behaviors. This coaching focus helps frontline sales managers make the connection for their salespeople between the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW to drive transformation and execution.

Frontline sales managers have to be master collaborators and escalation managers to drive sales execution and transformation

Frontline sales managers have to collaborate with many departments within an organization on a regular basis, e.g., product management, legal, controlling and finance, marketing, HR, production, delivery and customer service. Additionally, there are, of course, customers, and often also channel partners. And these groups will not always share the same interests. So, collaboration is not only working together to be more effective; it’s often required to manage escalations. To do so, a formal approach to collaboration is the key to success.

The major collaboration need, and part of the daily work, is the collaboration with service/production/delivery and channel partners (to be adjusted to your business model) when it comes to deal decisions. Here, collaboration principles are the keys to success, such as the deal evaluation criteria we discussed last week. Additionally, a cadence is important that connects frontline sales managers, sales executives, and representatives from service/production/delivery and channel partners to make those decisions together with one shared goal: to create a good business based on the business strategy. With those deal evaluation criteria and a cadence, deal decisions are traceable and scalable for all involved stakeholders, which is essential for any organization that aims to grow.

Only with clarity and direction can sales teams focus their energy on executing the sales strategy successfully. Establishing and maintaining this clarity is the frontline sales manager’s job as a communicator, change agent and collaborator. It’s connecting the dots between the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW for their salespeople, and that’s a frontline sales leadership responsibility.
Only with focus can energy create movement.

Question for you:

How do you develop your sales managers regarding their role as communicators, change agents and collaborators?

Related blog posts:

Frontline Sales Managers: Capabilities for the Required Maturity Level

Frontline Sales Managers: How to Get to the Recommended Maturity Level

Frontline Sales Managers: Key Role, but Poorly Developed and Enabled

What Triangles Have To Do With Frontline Sales Managers

What Driving Licenses have to do with FSM Development

How World-Class Frontline Sales Managers Coach Differently To Drive Performance


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