5 Ways Superior Sales Managers Enable Account Executives For Autonomous Success

effective sales management tips for enabling account executives

In this article, I’m going to breakdown what effective sales management is from an executive standpoint. For sales leaders that go above and beyond the call of duty, I call them “Super Sales Managers.”

Specifically, we’ll be looking at 5 things super sales managers do to maximize efficiency while enabling their AEs for long term success:

  1. Make sure the AE is doing the right things.
  2. Make sure the AE is doing the right things, right.
  3. Motivate the AE to give their best.
  4. Ensure both parties understand the forecast.
  5. Enable the AE by removing barriers.

Are You A Super Sales Manager?

Are you a sales manager who feels that they never have enough time in the day and yet you always feel like there is more to do?  It may be that you are suffering from what I call, ‘Super Rep Syndrome’ (SRS).  

There is a pharmaceutical advertisement appearing before me now:

Is your calendar booked back to back with customer meetings that your reps have invited you on?  Are you bumping your one on one meetings because you have more pressing matters?  Are your Sunday evenings taken up with reviewing reports to prepare for the week?  

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then you may have SRS – A serious, self inflicted condition that can persist for many years after first becoming a sales manager.  The Frontline Sales Management Bootcamp might be your answer and should be attended in consultation with your CRO.”

The common behaviors of over-coaching or taking the reins too often has become endemic in front-line management.   

Scan the examples below and then I will share a simple way of thinking about it that can reshape your calendar and empower your team:

“Be intentional in designing your week, month and quarter.”

Super managers need to elevate themselves above the field of play so that they are primarily directing the action, rather than being in the middle of it.

Super managers will partner with sales operations to design inspection frameworks that allow them to see the forest beyond a few trees.  

The super manager ensures that their calendar has protected windows that allow for a review of the team and individuals alike – They do not get buried in single deals.

For individuals, the higher order items for a super manager to focus on are as follows:

Image from SalesOps Central Frontline Management bootcamp.

A super manager has a recurring 1:1 agenda with report links embedded in the document for weekly inspection – A super rep turns up to talk about the biggest deals for the month and asks how they can help.

“Super managers begin with questions in deal reviews, not answers.”

The super manager is adept at having the AEs take ownership for outcomes and their own development by clarifying situations and presenting options; not executing on behalf of the team. 

A good example is when looking at a deal – Share the following perspectives with your AE:

  • If I were your competition and I saw your opportunity plan, here is what I would do…
  • If I were the prospect and I saw this, here is what I would say…
  • If I shared this with our executive team, here is what they would challenge…

Knowing this, what do you think is the most prudent course of action right now?

This is a very different conversation isn’t it?  Now your AE has the benefit of your situational awareness and the opportunity to solve for themselves.

For teams: The super manager partners with sales operations to review the sales funnel against a pre-defined plan that includes average deal sizes, sales cycles and win rates.  

This plan is checked for validity every month, which provides sufficient advance notice to course correct and to collaborate with peers and the executive to remediate anything out of line.

Related: How to Become a Best-in-Class VP of Sales by 25

The Executive View

As an executive I am looking for leverage from my managers, which will only happen if they are enabling their team, rather than propping them up.

For those times when you need to execute on behalf of an AE, be sure to review the situation with them and embed the learning so that they are enabled for the future.  

Ask yourself this question as you prepare for an interaction:

How will this interaction lead my AE to mastery of the activity and move them toward autonomy?”

Also published on Medium.

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