In this podcast, I talk with Natalie Bering of ServiceNow to help front-line managers help them think big, maximize their individual time with their staff, and focus on professional development. Keep reading to find out more.
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In this article:
- Who are the front-line managers?
- Train your leaders with high potential
- Help them discuss the pipeline
- Give context to the numbers game
- Make 1-on-1 count
- Take the time and make it non-negotiable
- Have a shared document
- Add a personal touch
- Start high, then go deep
- Balance praise and opportunities for improvement
- Discuss career development
- Have a career development plan
- Get it in writing
How to effectively support and develop front-line managers
Natalie Bering is Head of Sales Development and Sales at ServiceNow. She has always worked in sales and then discovered coaching, which led to her current position.
In this role, Bering ensures that business managers who enter the business are effectively integrated and supported. It also provides them with a comprehensive sustainment plan as they move within the organization.
Who are the front-line managers?
Front-line managers, also known as supervisors, store managers, junior managers, among others, are the middle managers of an organization. As the first level in the hierarchy, they manage the organization chart and assume important responsibilities.
However, front-line managers end up doing so much hard work (like the data jockey) that the reason they enter a management role in the first place (such as their leadership skills) is set aside.
According to Bering, this is what organizations can do to improve their success:
1. Coach your leaders with high potential
The best way for front-line managers to develop is to obtain the consent of the organization to facilitate their professional development. The operationalization of things such as leadership development and training encourages the most experienced sales managers to make good habits from the first day.
Make sure the manager has enough space and time to really know his teammates. If the manager does not connect to the group and does not understand the rest of the team, there is an attrition.
What is attrition? This occurs when a company loses employees due to quits and retirements and that it is not replaced. This reduces the company's workforce.
New managers in particular need a lot of coaching time in the first few weeks. Good coaching arms them with the right tools to oversee operations and strengthen employee engagement.
2. Help them discuss the pipeline
The new sales managers need some help to lead a tactical discussion. The simple fact that your front-line managers know how to make an agreement does not always mean that they intuitively know how to talk about things from a higher point of view.
The pipeline discussion is one of the issues that is often derailed. Instead of talking about the overall health of a sales pipeline, people tend to focus on one thing and the conversation turns into a deal discussion.
You want them to watch the big picture.
Have them evaluate the shape of the pipeline and think about opportunities. To illustrate an example, if the sales funnel is missing up and full down, ask your manager what he thinks he can do to improve it.
3. Give context to the numbers game
Figures and indicators are the backbone of sales, but it is more important that front-line managers ensure that their representatives know How? 'Or' What they can get these numbers in the first place. Letting a field representative do what he wants without a clear goal is a sure way to kill a sales team.
It's not enough to spit a number and call it a day. Ask them to develop the skills and get into the mindset of knowing how and what they need to reach that figure.
High potential employees bring to an organization a lot of talent and promise, but they tend to be tough and need some precision to be the best possible.
4. Make the number from 1 to 1
There are two types of people in a sales organization:
- Those who think that the sales rep should own the 1-on-1
- Those who think that the manager should
The reality is that a 1 to 1 must be a mixed effort.
5. Take the time and make it non-negotiable
Managers and representatives must take time for 1 to 1. If the manager continues to delay the time, he sends a message to the sales representative telling him that it is not a problem. a priority.
On the other hand, if the rep is indifferent or even dreads the 1-on-1, dig deeper. A tense relationship between the manager and the representative infiltrates all other aspects of the sales team.
6. Have a shared document
One way to make the most of individual time is to create a shared document describing the program for that first contact and allowing the sales representative to add the items he wants to discuss.
This allows both parties to know what the priorities are, what can be addressed in the one-on-one system and what can be discussed later. This tool allows both the manager and the representative to have some control and give them the opportunity to learn how to use the time.
7. Add a personal touch
First, do not forget to ask representatives how they are doing and if something is bothering them. The 1-on-1 is one of the few opportunities for a sales manager to get to know his representatives on a personal level.
If the team does not feel personally invested, they will be less involved in the organization.
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8. Start high, then go deep
A good way to structure these conversations for the future is to start with the high level. Give the representative a glimpse of what's happening in the business and give him the opportunity to ask questions.
Once this is defined, you can start with the operational questions.
9. Balance praise and opportunities for improvement
Each member of the team has their own strengths and weaknesses. Most of the time, however, sales representatives feel that this is the time when they are being chewed.
To put them at ease, we recommend that you devote not more than 20% of the time allocated for discussion of improvement opportunities.
When and How? 'Or' What these comments are also presented. Ideally, this should be done well in conversation and balanced with a lot of positive feedback.
10. Discuss career development
At least once a month, the manager should ask sales representatives how they want to progress in their careers.
It does not have to be the next step in terms of advancement. This can be how they can grow and improve in their current role.
11. Have a career development plan
All members of the organization (managers and salespeople) must have an idea of what they want to do and the trajectory they want to see in their careers.
It is important that the manager inform sales representatives under their wing that they will be supported. This is doubly important for lean days in sales where this type of conversation can prove difficult.
12. Get it in writing
Avoid generating ideas and leaving them in a vacuum. Get them in writing and put together a concrete plan.
Better yet, put these plans in the performance appraisal. If these goals are not written somewhere and inspected regularly, things will not happen.
According to Bering, front-line sales managers are among the most often-forgotten sales team members, and they should not be. A good thing to remember is that you are dealing with humans, not numbers.
And most importantly, when you attend a meeting, do not forget to enter the data you need into the CRM system to avoid duplicating your efforts. It makes things a lot more productive.
Are you a front-line manager? What are the things you would like leadership to know? Let us know in the comments section below.