Tibor Shanto can’t tell you the number of times he hears reps say “I didn’t know I had to do that”; or mangers say “didn’t they tell you that when you started?” Well there is no “they”, it is down to the manager to make sure that their team know exactly what is expected, when and how; what they can do, and what they cannot, no matter how minor it may seem. The manager is accountable to make sure that the reps understand and take it on board; the reps are accountable for executing what has been agreed to.
The reality is that to be a successful front line sales manager, it is not a question of being one or the other, it is really a question of integrating and balancing the two in every sales manager. To me a more accurate question would be “Are you a Sales Leader or not?” To me a leader, one that leads from the “front”, is one that is able to both manage and coach.
To manage, for me means to establish and communicate expectations. Communicate includes ensuring that your team members actually understands exactly what is expected of them. This means more than just the person nodding their heads; it means they have heard, understood, and most importantly, have taken on board and accepted what is expected of them. Of course if they indicate that they can’t or won’t, you need to make a different decision, an easy one I believe. Let’s be clear, this is different than someone who does accept what is expected, but needs skills or other development, we’ll deal with that below, but specifically here it is about those who want to be selective in what they accept of their role, and what they don’t.