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best practices to enable frontline managers
August 21, 2023

Enabling Frontline Sales Managers: 5 Strategies to Go from Good to Great

best practices to enable frontline managers


Frontline sales managers are the powerhouse behind every high-performing sales team. Their role is critical in driving productivity and fueling employee engagement. However, many frontline sales managers struggle because they don’t receive proper enablement and coaching.

In many cases, frontline sales managers get promoted to that role because they’re a top-performing sales rep. But being a great seller does not mean you will be a great manager. Like sales reps, frontline sales managers need training and support from enablement.

To unleash frontline sales managers’ true potential and drive outstanding results, organizations must invest in their development through specialized coaching, said Mark Magnacca, Allego president and co-founder in a recent LinkedIn post.

“By equipping [frontline sales managers] with coaching skills, they can help their sales representatives understand the ‘why’ behind their winning actions, ultimately leading to improved performance and deal closures,” he said.

Sheevaun Thatcher, VP of Strategic Enablement at Salesforce, agreed. During a recent EnableMinutes episode, she said one reason why it’s so critical to coach frontline managers is they must be skilled in how to help their sales reps navigate the chaos happening in their markets.

“Unless the sellers have folks who can help them go through the sales process, it can severely impact their success,” she said. “And it’s coaching [for frontline sales managers] that is missing in a lot of places.”

“Enablement is responsible to the whole sales organization to ensure they get all of the right training and messaging.”

— Sheevaun Thatcher, VP of Strategic Enablement, Salesforce

Often frontline sales managers are great at selling, but they don’t know why they’re great sellers or how to transfer that knowledge to their teams, Thatcher said.

They have “unconscious competence,” she said. And they need training and enablement to help them coach their sellers and help the reps understand what they must do to succeed.

“So, if we as enablement focus on that front line, the sales managers don’t become ‘super reps’ and try to close all the deals themselves,” Thatcher said.

Thatcher expanded on her reasoning during an episode of The Revenue Enablement podcast, saying, “Enablement is responsible to the whole sales organization to ensure they get all of the right training and messaging.”

Create a Business Case for Sales Enablement Technology

Download How to Sell Sales Enablement Technology to the C-Suite to learn how to prove the benefits of enablement technology and get the green light to transform your organization into a modern revenue enablement team.

The Importance of Frontline Sales Managers

To understand how to enable frontline sales managers, you must first understand their importance and their role within the company.

Role of Frontline Sales Managers in Business

Frontline sales managers are the linchpin of a successful sales team. They are the bridge between the company’s sales strategies and sellers’ execution in the field. These managers play a pivotal role in guiding and leading the sales reps towards achieving their targets.

At the core of their responsibilities is coaching. Through regular one-on-one meetings and team huddles, they provide valuable feedback and training to enhance the skills and performance of their team members. These interactions foster a sense of camaraderie, motivation, and personal growth, which are essential for a thriving sales force.

Frontline sales managers are not just supervisors; they are problem solvers. They tackle challenges that arise during the sales process, whether it’s addressing customer objections, refining sales tactics, or adapting strategies to market changes. Their quick thinking and decision-making ensure that the team can navigate obstacles effectively.

Successful frontline sales managers also have strong communications skills. These managers act as conduits between the sales team and upper management, conveying important insights from the field and relaying strategic directives from above. This seamless flow of information helps align the team’s efforts with the company’s overall goals.

Furthermore, frontline sales managers are the embodiment of leadership on the ground. Leading by example, they set the tone for professionalism, work ethic, and dedication. Their positive attitude and ability to motivate instill a sense of purpose in the team, fostering a high-performance culture.

Impact of Efficient Frontline Sales Managers on Sales

Efficient frontline sales managers serve as the catalysts for elevating sales results to new heights. Their influence permeates every aspect of the sales team’s dynamics and strategies, leading to a direct and tangible impact on overall sales outcomes.

These managers are adept at honing the individual and collective skills of their team members. Through personalized coaching and skill development plans, they identify strengths and areas for improvement, providing targeted guidance. This results in a team that has a diverse skill set and the ability to handle a variety of customer interactions. Consequently, buyer engagement becomes more effective and leads to higher conversion rates.

Efficient frontline sales managers serve as the catalysts for elevating sales results to new heights.

Frontline sales managers also establish clear lines of communication between the sales team and upper management. They facilitate the exchange of crucial insights garnered from the field, helping management make informed decisions. This flow of information enables the team to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and customer preferences, ensuring that strategies are aligned with real-time demands.

Successful frontline sales managers are problem solvers, untangling complex issues that might impede the sales process. Their adeptness at finding solutions ensures that potential roadblocks are preemptively addressed, preventing delays or missed opportunities. This proactive approach keeps the sales pipeline flowing smoothly, resulting in consistent revenue generation.

Top 3 Challenges Frontline Sales Managers Face

1. Difficulty in Meeting Sales Targets

Meeting sales targets poses a complex challenge for frontline sales managers. They must balance market shifts, customer preferences, and team dynamics—and then be able to quickly adapt. Consistent success hinges on their ability to coach sellers and foster collaboration among the team.

2. Struggles with Team Management and Motivation

Frontline sales managers must manage and align a team of sellers who have diverse skill sets and personalities. Motivating them requires a nuanced approach that addresses each seller’s goals and preferences. Managers must balance between offering guidance and granting autonomy to foster a sense of ownership.

3. Maintaining Customer Relationships

No customer is the same. Each has different needs, communication styles, and abilities. Frontline sales managers must help their teams balance customers’ needs while ensuring consistent and quality service. Additionally, they must foster a customer-centric culture within their sales team, aligning everyone toward the goal of long-term relationship building.

5 Strategies to Enable Frontline Sales Managers

1. Effective Sales Training Programs

By implementing a comprehensive sales training program for frontline sales managers, organizations can elevate their sales team’s performance, improve customer interactions, and drive sustainable revenue growth.

A sales training program should include:

Sales Strategy and Alignment: Teach managers about the organization’s sales strategy, market positioning, target segments, and competitive landscape to ensure they can effectively align their teams’ efforts.

Leadership and Communication: Provide training on leadership skills, effective communication, and motivational techniques to help managers lead their teams with clarity and inspiration.

Coaching and Performance Management: Equip managers with coaching frameworks, performance evaluation techniques, and strategies for addressing performance issues while fostering growth.

Data Analysis and Reporting: Provide skills in data analysis, reporting, and interpretation to enable managers to make data-driven decisions and track progress against goals.

Conflict Resolution and Problem Solving: Offer techniques for resolving conflicts within the team and problem-solving skills for addressing challenges in a collaborative manner.

2. Provide Adequate Resources and Tools

Frontline sales managers need a variety of resources and tools to effectively lead and manage their teams, align with the organization’s sales strategy, and drive sales performance. Key resources and tools include:

Revenue Enablement Platform:Revenue enablement platforms unite sales enablement functions and customer-facing revenue processes,” according to Gartner.

A comprehensive, modern revenue enablement platform supports five business processes that help your go-to-market teams reach, engage, and win over more buyers:

  • Sales Content & Messaging
  • Sales Coaching & Collaboration
  • Onboarding & Training
  • Virtual Selling (Digital Sales Rooms)
  • Product Launches & Rollouts

Sales Analytics and Reporting Tools: Tools that provide detailed sales reports, performance dashboards, and real-time analytics help managers track progress against targets, identify trends, and take proactive actions based on data insights.

Sales Coaching and Feedback Software: Software that facilitates ongoing coaching, feedback, and performance discussions between managers and their team members can enhance communication and professional growth.

Communication and Collaboration Tools: Tools such as messaging apps, video conferencing, and project management platforms enable seamless communication, remote team collaboration, and effective information sharing.

Sales Playbooks: Documented sales processes, best practices, objection handling strategies, and scripts provide frontline sales managers with resources to guide their teams in different sales scenarios.

Sales Content Management System: With a centralized sales content management system, organizations can create, organize, and curate marketing content, sales assets, and training materials from anywhere.

3. Encourage Continuous Learning and Development

Continuous learning and development empower frontline sales managers by enhancing their leadership skills, boosting team performance, and aligning with evolving industry trends. Ongoing education and skill refinement allow managers to:

  • Stay up to date on market trends
  • Be informed on new products and messaging
  • Adapt to change
  • Provide effective coaching
  • Make data-driven decisions

4. Focus on Communication Skills

Importance of Excellent Communication in Sales

Frontline sales managers require exceptional communication skills due to their pivotal role in conveying the organization’s vision, strategies, and objectives to their sales teams. It’s also necessary in their role as sales coach. Effective communication, both verbal and written, ensures clarity, alignment, and motivation. And in customer interactions, managers’ communication impacts sales outcomes.

Training Sales Managers in Effective Communication

Training frontline sales managers how to communicate is crucial for their leadership success. Here are some strategies to enhance their communication skills:

  • Role-playing: Engage managers in role-playing scenarios to practice handling different communication situations.
  • Feedback Sessions: Provide constructive feedback on managers’ communication styles, helping them identify strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Storytelling Training: Teach managers to use storytelling to convey messages, connect emotionally with team members, and make information more memorable.
  • One-on-One Coaching: Offer individual coaching sessions to address specific communication challenges faced by each manager.
  • Peer Learning: Encourage managers to share their communication successes and challenges, fostering a collaborative learning environment.

5. Empower Sales Managers with Technology

Technology plays a key role in helping frontline sales managers do their jobs well. It enhances their capabilities, accelerates decision-making, and drives efficiency in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

Technology also equips managers with real-time data insights, enabling them to make informed decisions swiftly. It also streamlines tasks, such as performance tracking, reporting, and data analysis, saving time and allowing managers to focus on strategic initiatives and team engagement.

In addition, automation tools simplify administrative tasks, allowing managers to focus on coaching and strategic planning. Communication platforms foster seamless collaboration, even across remote teams. And modern learning tools support adaptive learning and allow managers to access training resources at any time and from any device.

Beware of overwhelming frontline sales managers with a lot of tools. Having too many tools creates confusion, reduces productivity, and is not cost-efficient. Instead, look for all-in-one AI-powered solutions that include multiple tools. For example, a modern revenue enablement platform offers a comprehensive set of enablement tools: sales readiness, sales content management, conversation intelligence, and digital sales rooms.

Benefits of Enabling Frontline Sales Managers

Enablement equips sales managers to lead effectively, respond nimbly to market shifts, and drive their teams toward higher performance and revenue attainment. Specific benefits include:

Enhanced Coaching Skills: Managers learn proven coaching techniques and methodologies to bring out the best in their sales team.

Sustainable Growth: Frontline sales managers become growth catalysts who nurture a culture of continuous improvement and success.

Empowered Sales Reps: Sales reps flourish as they gain valuable insights and confidence to close deals effectively.

Maximized Team Performance: When frontline sales managers are empowered, sales teams will see higher performance and will more easily hit their targets.

An Environment of Collaboration and Support: When frontline sales managers know how to lead, coach, and communicate, sales reps will work together to achieve their goals. No longer will sales managers try to close all deals themselves. In addition, communication and collaboration with marketing and customer success also improves.

When Frontline Sales Managers Succeed, Companies Win

Sales manager success directly impacts a company’s bottom line by driving team performance, meeting revenue targets, and maximizing sales efficiency. It’s imperative, therefore, that you include managers in your company’s enablement efforts. When you do, you will ensure they’re able to foster sustained business growth and success.

Create a Business Case for Sales Enablement Technology

Download How to Sell Sales Enablement Technology to the C-Suite to learn how to prove the benefits of enablement technology and get the green light to transform your organization into a modern revenue enablement team.

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