What do Frontline Sales Managers do, and What Makes Them Great

A person standing in front of a window Description generated with high confidence


A person standing in front of a window

Description generated with high confidence

For any sales organization to succeed, it must have a highly successful frontline sales manager (FSM). A person in this position is responsible for many duties, including hiring sales representatives, organizing the efforts of sales teams in multiple marketplaces, providing feedback and conducting performance reviews for sales representatives, and modeling desired behaviors.

Although it’s a lot of responsibility for one person to take on, an effective FSM often means the difference between meeting sales goals and growing as a company or having a team of burnt-out, frustrated representatives who can’t meet their targets.

Common Challenges of the FSM

FSMs face a unique challenge in their role because they must balance the competing demands of business, customers, and people. Industry insiders refer to this as the FSM Triangle. One of the most challenging factors of this role is that people who performed well as sales representatives won’t necessarily make an effective FSM. They need development too, and those who don’t receive it often make poor hiring and promotion decisions while driving the most effective sales personnel away from the organization.

Another typical complaint among FSMs is the lack of definition about their role. Many organizations focus on the results alone without considering how to reach them. Compensation, role definitions, and sales metrics are not reflected in an appropriate manner to obtain the desired sales results.

What many sales organizations fail to understand is that someone needs to train the coach. All too often, a previous sales representative receives a promotion to an FSM without training tailored to their new role. The standard training on management and leadership courses doesn’t go far enough to address what the new FSM needs to balance in his or her three roles as effectively as possible.

Start by Analyzing Sales Performance Data

The new FSM needs to understand how his or her team operates in terms of meeting sales expectations. Does most revenue come from a single large sale or does it trickle in by way of smaller sales throughout the year? They also need to put programs in place to continue to attract recurrent revenue as this is a great challenge for many companies. After gaining a better big picture of sales performance data, the FSM can create a program that draws on the strengths of the sales team in procuring new deals.

Work Closely with Sales Operations

Sales executives can only do their job well when complete transparency exists with sales operations. They need to know the details behind the numbers to have a clearer understanding of how those numbers came to be in the first place.

Many sales organizations focus on the performance of representatives to the exclusion of the person managing them. A person’s training should not be complete once he or she moves into the role of FSM. In fact, this person needs continuous training and support if the people reporting to him or her are to bring in the expected revenue. Smart CEOs recognize this and organize their sales teams in such a way that people at every level never stop learning how to improve.

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