Enable Your Frontline Managers to Accelerate Growth
Frontline managers are tasked with the impossible today. They are managing more sellers than ever before, are leading teams remotely, and are required to hit unattainable goals. They are the only one that can truly drive accountability and engagement. It's time we gave them the upper hand.
Your Greatest Growth Lever is Already On Your Team!
We’ve all seen stats on the cost of seller turnover and what a rep’s time is worth. It’s the most common stat when we talk about training and enablement. It’s the justification we need to invest in training and technology to speed up our seller’s ability to sell and learn. Yet the most glaring gap I continuously see is that these programs and the associated investment do not include the frontline manager. It is so rare to see investment being placed at the manager level. Sure you sent them to a weeklong seminar on leadership, and had them read that management book, but what else have we done to make them better? To make them faster? What have we done to make them a multiplier?
Before founding Canopy I spent nearly five years in the sales enablement and training space leading the revenue organization at LearnCore and then joining the team at Showpad, post-acquisition. In that time I had the opportunity to meet with thousands of organizations and revenue leaders all trying to improve their performance and accelerate growth. What do you think the most common objection or challenge we heard was when we introduced sales coaching? It wasn’t time, budget, or priority. In the majority of cases, it was that they did not know, or they believed their frontline managers did not know, what to coach their reps on. How wild is that? Whether it was that they didn’t trust them or that they hadn’t actually trained them in the first place doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they were not leveraging their most valuable asset. They were not pulling on the greatest growth lever available to them: frontline managers.
According to CEB’s Sales Leadership Council, the right number of salespeople per manager is 8. A similar research study done by HBR could put that number as high as 10-12 depending on the type of organization and sales cycle. For simple math, let us say it’s 8 salespeople per manager. That means that if you invest in a single salesperson your multiple is 1x. At best you get a high flyer and receive a 1.5 to 2x return. If you invest in a sales manager your multiple is 8x. That is 8x the productivity compared to a single salesperson.
We all care about revenue so let’s use some hard dollars. For example, if a seller adds 1 additional deal per month at an ACV of $10K that is an increase of $120K annually. Now let’s say that a frontline manager is able to increase the average number of deals per seller by .5 per month. That is .5 (Avg. # of Deals Per Seller) x 12 (Months in a Year) x $10K (ACV) x 8 (# of Sellers on the Team) = $480K increase.
You may be thinking, thanks for the math lesson Pat, how do we actually drive performance? Here are three ways your managers can accelerate growth:
- Consolidate KPI’s and Leading Indicators into a single metric measured on a weekly basis. This will allow managers to quickly identify sellers whose performance is trending up, down, or remaining flat.
- Provide real-time individual performance metrics. Including win rate by stage, days in stage, and conversion rates by stage. This will help leaders identify the weak points in each seller’s individual selling motion. Every seller has unique and different behaviors and habits. We have to identify and embrace these in order to drive real change.
- Compare them to the peers on their immediate team. Each manager knows their top performers well. Comparing their team members accordingly across any number of variables including forecast accuracy, slippage, activities, you name it, can help to pull the emotion out of the conversation and allow them to coach sellers to achieve more by creating healthy competition and an attainable goal to achieve.
Frontline managers are the accountability layer, the motivator, the therapist, the driver of strategy execution, and the information valve that provides visibility for senior leadership. It’s time to invest in them the same way we invest in salespeople.
No matter what your next move is from here, make sure your sales managers feel supported, confident, and have access to the information they need to incrementally improve each salesperson on their team. Don’t just retain salespeople, make them better! Get more out of every person in the organization.
If you want to learn more about how we built Canopy to enable managers to accelerate growth and focus on what matters most to senior leadership, let’s talk! If not, at least help your managers dig in and understand where each seller’s individual strengths and weaknesses lie and help them accelerate growth across their entire team.