The challenging economic environment makes it more important than ever for sales teams to continue to improve productivity. Yet increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of individual sales reps remains an ongoing challenge. Research firm IDC found the key to a productive sales force is the first-line sales manager.
Many consider the first-line sales manager as the single most important role in the sales organization because he/she can improve the performance of 60 percent to 80 percent of the sales representatives (primarily the “B” and “C” performers) by ensuring that the company’s sales methodology and account planning processes are followed and applying the lessons taught in training, the research firm reported.
“Sales organizations that truly understand both the value and impact of the first-line sales manager, and that also properly hire, support and manage this role, will find the performance of their ‘B’ players, the majority of the sales organization, to substantially improve,” said Lee Levitt, program director, IDC Sales Advisory Service. “No organization can overestimate the power of this role to influence sales results.”
Levitt added that the ideal first-line sales manager has to be capable of developing people, delivering numbers, fitting into the culture of the organization, and knowing how to grow the business. Beyond that, inspiring, motivating and coaching should be daily activities for the first line sales manager, he said. “IDC sees this as the single most important part of the sales manager’s job and a key opportunity to develop competency models and drive efficiencies. Coaching provides the opportunity to help salespeople sharpen their skills and builds confidence to stay in the game,” Levitt said.