Big data supports the importance of front-line sales managers

Sales managers

Sales managers

When companies get it right managers thrive, staff is more engaged, and companies gain a competitive edge.  In fact, according to Gallup, when companies can increase the number of talented managers and double the number of engaged employees, they achieve, on average, 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.

Gallup recently studied hundreds of organizations and measured the engagement of 27 million employees over the past two decades – across industries. One can only imagine the amount of data collected and analyzed.  From all that data the important big picture point is there are links between employee engagement and vital performance indicators like: higher profitability, improve quality, lower turnover, less absenteeism, less theft, and fewer safety incidents.  In other words when employee engagement rises, everything gets better.

To achieve this higher level of engagement, Gallup argues that every team needs a great manager. But, they’re hard to find. Consider this …

1. Gallup shares that only about one in 10 people possess the talent to manage.
2. Many managers are promoted because of their success as an individual contributor.
3. According to Gallup, great managers have these five talents:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics.

We thought this was a particularly important study and set of conclusions for Sales. After all, the Sales function certainly is one that traditionally promotes successful salespeople into sales management roles.  And, there is little question that Gallup’s five talents map extremely well against what it takes to be a great sales manager.

This massive research study just once again suggests that sales managers are the pivotal job for sales success. Few companies would err by aggressively devoting more time, effort, and resources to developing of a superior cadre of front-line sales managers

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©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC

About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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3 Responses to Big data supports the importance of front-line sales managers

  1. Daniel Paton says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to finally see acknowledgement of key indicators of great managers , creating an open and transparent environment accountability and responsibility are key to developing both experienced and new members of the team .

    Politics are almost always guaranteed to cause problems with cliques formed mostly by individuals covering their own inadequacies , great managers are driving performance through motivation , building strong relationships resulting in productivity improvement , this is far more valuable especially when it challenges the status quo , change management needs an assertive approach and clear direction to achieve the required outcomes , great managers on the front line will produce great improvement on the bottom line .

  2. Chris Banzet says:

    There’s only one problem I see here in regards to the true “value” statement of a manager though. What we’re discussing is the “byproduct” of what formed them in the first place.

    If we want to genuinely “find” good managers, we need to understand how to “breed” good managers. The reason why there is only 1 in 10 capable of managing isn’t because there is some special DNA pattern. It’s because the environment in which we are all created doesn’t have the supporting elements to help us grow into such a leadership role.

    So although I love this article and how it showcases the “values” associated with great leaders, it doesn’t really define the “true nature” of “how” that leader became a leader.

    Some can argue that’s a discussion for another day, but its that type of top layer oversight that keeps us traveling the same roads.

    I love reading the articles from Richard and Janet both. They’re on topic with today’s greatest concerns and points of relevancy. But I’m always the guy who cuts through a steak and finds that one morsel closest to the bone which has the juiciest content and provides the entire meal with its value.

    Maybe we can cut through the top layers of this article and get down to the real morsel of value of this subject matter. Why are so few leaders being produced these days? And WHAT is that magic formula?

  3. Richard Ruff says:

    Daniel and Chris

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. In regard to the question that Chris noted – a couple of comments. It is hard to give a really good answer to such a good question in this format but with that caveat in mind here are a couple of thoughts

    First it is probably a good idea to distinguish between front-line manager and “leaders” when answering the question – let’s focus on managers specifically sales managers.

    One reason might be that companies do not do a very good job in early identification and development of folks who have the potential to be good sales managers.

    A second reason might be there are more good managers then there appears to be because top leadership has them doing the wrong things.

    A third reason is the lack of really good ongoing creative training and development.

    A fourth one might be the lack of a upward career path while staying within the ranks of front-line managers.


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