We all struggle occasionally to keep things in perspective. In particular, we start to take things around us for granted - things that are so embedded in our daily landscape that we stop recognizing them as being uniquely valuable.
To combat this tendency, there’s a simple reality checking exercise I use to put things back in perspective: I simply try to imagine my life without those specific items. For example:
To name another common example, consider your sales managers. You remember them. These were the rock star salespeople you showered with rewards and praise earlier in their careers. You invested heavily in their skills and enablement. They closed big deals and cashed big checks.
Your head of sales and CEO knew their names (maybe even the names of their children and dogs). They ruled the world and walked with purpose, knowing their contributions to your company were substantial and appreciated. Then the inevitable happened…
One day a hole appeared in the middle of your sales force’s org chart. A new supervisor was needed, and the search was on for ‘management material.’ And it seemed kind of obvious – the best salespeople should surely make the best sales managers! Then with both a bang and a thud, your former sales force celebrities were promoted into the most anonymous role in any sales organizations. They became your frontline sales managers.
In fairness, there’s nothing wrong this this story so far. You took great salespeople and make them your sales managers. It makes sense. But if your sales force is like most, your managers now just kind of blend into the landscape.
Your eyes are naturally drawn to the new generation of rock star salespeople, and your sales managers are that dependable layer of the sales organization that you don’t need worry about. They’re solid. You can safely (even if unintentionally) ignore them. But consider for a moment just how important those frontline managers are to you. Imagine your life without them. Pretend for a moment that your entire team of frontline sales managers didn’t showup for work one day. Or the next, or the next. I predict that three things would happen to you, exactly in this order.
Now consider the opposite situation. Imagine not only that you have a complete team of frontline sales managers, imagine that you considered them to be a focal point of your organizational affection. Imagine that they got just as much attention as the salespeople they manage. They got the rewards and praise. They got the investment in their skills and enablement. The head of sales and CEO knew their names and the names of their dogs. What if this quiet, solid layer of the organization got the rock star treatment? What would happen?
Well, you would experience a better life. Your reports, forecasts, and sales pipelines would be beyond reproach. Your sales force would become a guided missile that would annihilate your competition. Your team’s performance would perpetually improve, feeding off its own operational excellence. You would stand apart from nearly every other sales force in the world that views its frontline sales managers as the people who keep the peace – not the people who rule the world. And make no mistake… Sales managers rule the world of sales.
Jason Jordan is a partner of Vantage Point Performance, the world’s leading training firm focused exclusively on sales managers. He is a recognized thought leader in the domain of B2B sales and conducts ongoing research into the sales management best practices of world-class organizations.
Jason’s extensive research led to the breakthrough insights in his best-selling book, Cracking the Sales Management Code, and his writing has been published by Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Sales & Marketing Management, and many other leading publications. He resides in Charlottesville, VA, where he lectures at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business.