It's Time to Empower Front-Line Managers
It's settled. Front-line managers are the key to sales performance, yet at the same time, they are perhaps the most underserved group in terms of sales enablement, training, and onboarding.
Jeff Serlin (Pendo.io), Scott Sutton (Zoominfo), and Tristan Munday (Cloudera) recently joined BoostUp.ai CEO Sharad Verma on a roundtable to discuss how revenue and sales operations teams can empower front-line sales managers through data, processes, and tools.
Front-line managers are the act as the middle-man between salespeople and senior management. They take the goals set by management and translate them into day-to-day activities for their team of sales reps. These managers are the ultimate drivers of revenue, as they review their rep's deals and work to coach and guide them to a sales win.
Therein lies the problem. Sales managers are tasked with so many responsibilities that 73% report that they spend less than 5% of their time coaching. The result is an estimated 25% to 50% of deals slipping each quarter.
So how can operations help sales managers? They can leverage digital data, analytics, and tools to provide them with the dashboards and workflows that they need to review more deals faster and more effectively. Managers must review deals, spot at-risk opportunities, identify resolutions and next steps, and effectively present them to sales reps to recapture revenue and increase sales performance.
If you want to view the entire roundtable, you can watch it here.
In the digital age of selling, what is the role of sales managers in driving front-line productivity?
In the day of remote sales, sales managers now have new responsibilities they might not be familiar with, says Jeff. Namely, maintaining team and company culture. Without a sales floor, unstructured communication is much harder to come by, so managers need to find a way to create a friendly flow of information without being there in person.
Scott adds that pressure is now on operations teams. With this new lack of free-flowing communication to provide information, gaps in metrics are readily apparent and must be resolved.
Tristan states that suddenly, sales managers have become data-driven because they have had no other choice. The only way they can manage is through their tools and analytics. The front-line managers have taken the brunt since responsibility for people, and sales performance has been placed directly on them.
The powerful analytics and technologies typically used by leadership roles within organizations are now required at every single position for optimal performance. Managers need these technologies to gather necessary information and maximize performance.
The impacts of geographically dispersed workers are very real. It is incredibly difficult for managers to feel what is going on with their teams, as communications are largely structured or asynchronous (whether it be through Slack, email, etc.). Pipelines have also thinned, which means teams must make the most of every deal. Data is the new method of communication, and it must be utilized by managers to get the absolute most out of their teams.
BoostUp is the only revenue intelligence platform built for sales managers. Its unique insights give managers visibility into team and individual pipeline performance, risk factors, and forecast attainment. Managers can understand exactly where each rep stands and what they must do to meet goals.
Sales managers must work collaboratively with reps, rather than being interrogators. How can revenue operations power this collaboration?
Scott says, "Data is the language of communication now," and that it is incredibly important that front-line managers and sales reps alike get training on how to utilize the data that is available to them. Rather than relying on gut instinct, that all levels of the organization need to center on data.
Jeff seconds the idea of data as a language and adds that, "If we were all to look at the amount of time we spend thinking about training for reps versus managers, it's very lopsided... The enablement team should very intentionally and thoughtfully think about programs for managers." Managers need just as much training as reps do, especially since many are promoted from individual contributor roles. Therefore, they need to learn how to manage a portfolio of sellers, rather than selling themselves.
In the same vein, Tristan adds that sales managers are not "super-reps.” They are coaches who essentially run a business unit, and therefore need to think as such. Operations need to treat them in the same way. "Think about a first-line manager as having a franchise... RevOps must insist on having the process available at the aggregate level for the board and CRO, and give those keys to the people who actually run the business."
Now more than ever, data is key to organizational success. In fact, every level of the organization should now have access to the same data that the CRO or Board sees. This way, everyone understands how they impact overall goals. However, this data cannot be a drag. It must be organized, accurate, and understandable so that managers can make the best decisions without any additional time or effort.
BoostUp gives managers instant visibility into seller activities, meetings, and deals through activity analytics that delivers actionable coaching insights based on sales behaviors. It shows rep activities against contacts and accounts to create engagement risk scores that indicate if a deal is slipping. Sales activities are also automatically collected directly from the source, not the CRM, so data is always accurate and up to date.
How can organizations reduce the drag on front-line managers and enable them to be more productive?
Jeff, Scott, and Tristan all say that companies must reduce the "corporate tax." Organizations must take a hard look at the meetings they are asking managers to join, the work they are putting on them, and the extraneous activities that are not part of their daily goals and eliminate all but the most necessary. The more time managers have to work with reps, the more revenue they generate.
Scott says that rather than giving managers a task and asking, "That should take 5 minutes, why did it take you 2 hours?" that teams should enable managers to complete that same task in 10 minutes. Tristan says that, as an individual sales rep, teams must define a goal for their managers and give them the processes and metrics necessary to achieve it.
Jeff recommends including as many end-users in the evaluation and purchasing process as possible. He says they must be involved from the very beginning, so they become advocates and allies for whatever tool is chosen. Scott adds that, in the case of a CRM, it must be more than a record-keeping tool. It must help sales managers optimize the outcome by providing them with a seamless workflow that is data-rich.
Tristan states that the tool must also be aligned with your core processes. He says, "It must line up with the reps and managers for their business, but also what the company requires."
In a study of managers using BoostUp, it was found that sales managers using our platform were able to review up to 20 more deals per week. The more deals a manager is able to review, the more they can coach and correct on to earn more revenue. Tools and data are incredibly useful, but they should effectively remove managers’ work, not add to it.
BoostUp actively surfaces key insights like deal risk, missing activities, and next best steps so managers can identify and prioritize what deals need attention, which reps they need to coach, and on what within seconds, not hours.
How do you drive manager adoption of tools?
Jeff recommends including as many end-users in the evaluation and purchasing process as possible. He says they must be involved from the very beginning, so they become advocates and allies for whatever tool is chosen.
Scott adds that, in the case of the CRM, it must be more than a record-keeping tool. It must help sales managers optimize the outcome by providing them with a seamless workflow that is data-rich.
Tristan states that the tool must also be aligned with your core processes. He says, "It must line up with the reps and managers do for their business, but also what the company requires."
Today, sales teams have too many tools. So much so that they are likely slowing themselves down. BoostUp is an all-in-one revenue, forecasting, and activity intelligence tool for every level of the organization. From the CRO to the individual sales rep, each role benefits from BoostUp data and analytics, aligning your organization around a common goal.
More About BoostUp
BoostUp can help you prioritize your efforts and ensure that your front-line sales managers are as effective as possible, giving them the data, tools, and actionable insight needed for them to succeed - and ultimately drive the revenue organization forward.
You can chat with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.