Help Sales Managers Set a Goal to Focus on What's Most Important
The over-arching objective of sales enablement professionals should be to support revenue growth by helping sales professionals achieve their sales goals. The most important way to accomplish this is to "reduce the time sellers spend not selling," and focus on client-facing tasks that improve sales
This isn’t just measuring customer-facing selling time but also optimizing everything that helps support the customer’s buying journey i.e., research, follow-up, providing resources, etc., AND minimizing administrative busy work, excessive meetings, etc.
For managers, an equally important goal is to: "reduce the time managers spend not managing," Managers need as much time as possible to focus on what’s most important: managing, coaching, and leading their teams.
Instead of enabling front-line managers to become better managers, many enablement programs put additional burdens on them. In a quest to have managers support a technology, training, or a change initiative, managers get tasked with doing even more activities, while no consideration is given to all the other goals and priorities the managers already have on their plate.
We definitely need sales manager involvement in strategic initiatives to help drive behavior change and create lasting impact - that much we know. But for every new initiative and program we ask them to support, we should be looking at taking something off their to-do list.
Here are two priority objectives that sales enablement professionals (and sales leaders in general) should consider for improving sales managers’ effectiveness and setting goals to focus on what’s most important.
1. Offload or Stop Activities that Don’t Create Leverage
Some examples of these activities include:
- Attending meetings where they really aren't providing direct input or involved in a decision
- Producing their own reports and analytics
- Responding to weekly/daily/hourly pipeline update requests for upper management
- Dealing with client issues because the team isn't trained or enabled to handle them
- Administrative tasks and most paperwork
- Taking over deals or riding to the rescue because the team doesn't have the adequate skills to do it on their own (and the manager doesn't have enough time to coach them to greater proficiency)
If we can find ways to remove many of the non-value activities, we can help them focus on creating leverage and lasting change. These are the tasks that Stephen Covey (and Dwight Eisenhower) would call "Important, but not urgent." They don't have to happen today, but they will pay off in the future. We must help managers make time for these objectives.
2. Help Them Prioritize and Focus on Important, High-Value Management Activities
Some examples of these important but not urgent priorities include activities such as:
- Hiring and building the team
- Setting expectations and managing performance
- Coaching selling skills
- Creating and executing strategy
- Providing input into new sale plays
- Reviewing strategic opportunities and providing deal coaching
Many organizations seem to be very competent at adding new tasks to the front-line sales manager's to-do list, without regard to the actual implementation or time management impact. Instead, the goal should be to help sales managers focus on what’s most important to building the team and hitting their sales targets. While also making it a goal to identify and remove the activities that just get in the way. Perhaps the answer is to help managers create a “stop-doing list” as well.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is the General Manager of the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation, and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.
- Connect with Ray Makela