Want to boost company sales and productivity? Don’t look to your top salesperson. Hold off on expanding your sales team. Skip the flashy incentive program.

Instead, look to the unsung heroes of the sales organization: the frontline sales managers. These professionals have one of the hardest jobs on the sales team but also the biggest impact on its success. Frontline sales managers must balance a heavy load of administrative tasks, manage diverse and geographically dispersed teams, and work to hit quarterly sales goals — no easy task.

What’s more, many frontline sales managers do it without adequate training. A recent study, “The Critical Role of the Front Line Manager,” found that 71% of frontline sales managers have less than five years of experience as a sales rep before they step up to a management role, and almost one-third have only two or three years of experience.

To move the needle on sales and create a successful sales force, sales leadership must focus on helping frontline sales managers thrive. It comes down to two elements: training them to succeed and then sustaining them with the right tools and resources.

Train

The transition from sales rep to sales manager can be overwhelming. Sales goals don’t wait, so sales managers need to hit the ground running to oversee their team and handle administrative tasks — not to mention drive sales.

The first place sales leaders should look to for improvement is improving the training they provide new sales managers. Effective transitions should include:

Management 101: Most frontline sales managers don’t have much — if any — management training, so transition plans should include basic management skills and comprehensive company background information.

Sensible schedules: It’s hard to slow down in a fast-paced sales environment, but allowing enough transition time for sales managers to develop their management skills and experience the personal coaching they need will pay off.

Next steps: Sales managers are ambitious and often see the frontline sales manager role as a stepping stone. Mapping a career path to the next step in the organization helps motivate them to succeed in their current role.

Sustain

The focus on supporting frontline sales managers shouldn’t stop once they’re trained. Sales leaders must invest in digital tools to ensure frontline sales managers can use their new skills to the best effect. Digital platforms should support:

Time savings: Frontline sales managers have dozens of tasks to squeeze into a given week, and the tasks that take up the most time often aren’t directly tied to the development of their team or revenue. The less time frontline sales managers spend on administrative tasks, the more time they’ll have for more important responsibilities, such as training and coaching. Digital enablement platforms can automate and streamline otherwise time-consuming tasks to help frontline sales managers make the most of their limited time.

Team management: Most sales teams are geographically dispersed, which means remote employees are becoming the norm. In fact, 79% of sales managers have at least one remote team member, and more than half (52%) say at least half of their teams are remote. This trend presents challenges when it comes to management and training. Platforms that deliver personalized training and coaching at scale help frontline sales managers give their teams the support they need, no matter where they’re located.

Properly trained and supported, the frontline sales manager will lead the sales team to success. Focusing resources on this unsung hero is the most strategic way to boost sales and productivity.

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