Managing front line salespeople is hard.


Whether you are a front line sales manager, a senior sales executive like a Director, VP or COO – or if you are the head of a small company that doesn’t have a dedicated front line sales manager and you take on that role yourself (on top of the many other things you do)….


Harder still when you also sell, and have your own quota to meet – imposed by others or as required by the cash flow needs of the business.

And even harder than that, if – as in so many cases:

  • You never got any training on front line sales management;
  • You don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to sales management because of other commitments, and/or
  • You don’t have any kind of organizational structure to support the front line sales management work that you do.

…and yet – sales is the life blood of your company.

What a mess!

So why is it like that in so many companies?

I have been working in and with sales organizations since 1991 and while the specific problems are different for each company, there is a common theme:

Those sales organizations that are more systematic about selling as an organization tend to do better than those who are more random.

What kind of random?

Think about the salespeople in your sales organization. To what extent do they operate like “lone wolves”? Do they get an end-of-the-term number and little if no oversight – then go out into the world to see what they can make happen?

Be honest.

It is a lot more common than you might think – at least from what I have seen.

This is a big problem, and even bigger when combined with another common situation –  that Pareto was right. You know, Pareto – the 80/20 guy.

When you combine a lone wolf sales culture, disengaged sales management and 80/20 results you have a recipe for disaster. You might hit your numbers, but getting there is ugly, and it just doesn’t have to be like that.

  • Pareto style organizations hit their number because a few reps do great, and they carry the rest.
  • Having disengaged sales management plus lone wolf reps means that the organization as a whole has no real impact on the results.

Not pretty.

So what can you do about that?

I have been in sales training for more than a dozen years, and what I have learned in that time is this: the right place to start is the same place that Vince Lombardi* started at the beginning of each football season – with definitions:

“Gentlemen – this is a football”.

*For you non-American football fans, Vince Lombardi is the famous former coach of the Green Bay Packers football team, and the person they named the Super Bowl (championship) trophy after…so his team knew what a football was, but that is how this legendary coach started each and every year…

Your sales organization might feel like a mess, and maybe it is – but if you want to start getting on top of that, you should start by setting up:

  • A common language between your reps and managers (i.e. agreed upon definitions),
  • Clear expectations about the things it takes to get new business,
  • And what the people who reps report to will do to both support sales efforts (not just results) and to hold reps accountable to them.

Sound hard? In some ways yes (nobody ever likes to change), but in some ways not – if you have a clear plan.

Not sure how to make one? Well, if it’s important enough to you and you would like to talk about if that is something I can help you with, let’s take the time to get to know each other a bit.