Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 16
The more things change, the more they stay the same. For example, there was an old classification system the early Greeks came up with to classify the basic elements. In 1869, Dimitri Mendelev evolved that concept and began to classify the elements by their atomic mass. The idea of classification is critical to how you understand something. While sales managers have been critical to sales productivity for 100+ years, it's an often misunderstood role. The same applies here. Classification matters.
Let's face it. Buyers have evolved, marketers have evolved, IT teams have evolved, leaders have evolved. And that leads to an important question -- What about sales managers? How have they evolved? Companies expect a LOT out of their sales management team. How they view (categorize) their sales management team at the organization matters. Do they expect forecasts on time? That means managers have to spend time in spreadsheets and opportunity reviews.
Join us at https://www.OrchestrateSales.com/podcast/ to collaborate with peers, join Insider Nation, participate in the conversation and be part of the continued elevation of the profession.
Nick Merinkers 00:00
Welcome to the inside sales enablement podcast. Where has the profession been? Where is it now? And where is it heading? What does it mean to you, your company, other functions? The market? Find out here. Join the founding father of the sales enablement profession Scott Saantucci and Trailblazer Brian Lambert as they take you behind the scenes of the birth of an industry, the inside sales enablement podcast starts now.
Scott Santucci 00:00
I'm Scott Sachi.
Brian Lambert 00:00
I'm Brian Lambert and we are the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is for sales enablement, leaders looking to elevate their function, expand their sphere of influence, and increase the span of control within their companies.
Scott Santucci 00:00
Together, Brian and I have worked on over 100 different kinds of sales enablement initiatives, as analysts, consultants or practitioners, we've learned the hard way, what works, and maybe what's more important. What doesn't.
Brian Lambert 00:00
Our podcast is different. We use a conversational format to help share the experiences that only people who've been there and done that can provide, as we have been pushing the envelope in the profession for over a decade. And in today's show, we're going to discuss what changes in the marketplace that's causing you to re examine the role of sales managers. What is this idea or concept of role ambiguity? And why is it so destructive? And what are the five traits, timeless traits, sales managers should have to be successful in today's modern selling landscape? As usual, we start with a centering story to give our episode a theme. Scott take it away from here.
Scott Santucci 00:00
Thank you, Brian. And thank you all our listeners actually want to share a little bit an idea actually shared by one of our listeners. And I was talking with one of our listeners and he said, you know what we were doing. We're actually having a podcast listening club. And what they're doing is they're listening, they're sharing with their team.
Brian Lambert 02:15
Scott Santucci 02:16
a podcast, and then they're all talking about it the next day to come up with ideas and what inspired them was one of our earlier podcasts, it was the first one or the second one talking about how difficult it is to do all the internal selling. And this particular director like Geez, that's a big problem that we've got. And he shared shared that point of view with other with his other teammates and and they all said yeah, we have a hard time selling, whether it be the coaching program to the frontline sales managers or selling what's required with the, with the marketers, so they got this idea to do this pilot Cast listening club, and we'd like to share that with the rest of you. Maybe that's a way that you can, you can take advantage of our podcast.
Brian Lambert 03:07
Scott Santucci 03:08
with that. That's pretty cool story, right? Yeah. Speaking of cool stories, for a very forced segue, Plato, Plato. Plato was one of the first people to write about elements. And there was a classification system that the ancient Greeks use to describe the world around them. And if you know,
Brian Lambert 03:31
I know this, I know this, okay. Is it is it fire Earth, Wind and water,
Scott Santucci 03:37
close fire, earth, but air is what they call it, and then they added another one
Brian Lambert 03:44
melancholy or whatever.
Scott Santucci 03:46
Nether. Yeah, sort of space. Right. Yeah. Right. And that those, those categories became the foundation for everything. And really, that's where alchemy, you know, it was a big deal, and we No alchemy has to be kind of silly. But if it weren't for alchemists, we wouldn't have modern chemistry. Along came back to 1869. And yes, that's the same year is when we have the Brooklyn Bridge story. So, a lot of great stuff happened in sales enablement.
Brian Lambert 04:18
Yeah, I'm sure somebody's driving down the roads. Like that's the same year as the Brooklyn Bridge story.
Scott Santucci 04:23
Yeah. All of them are doing that. Right. Right. My gosh, how uncanny?
Brian Lambert 04:29
I'm pretty sure you're the only person on the planet that
Scott Santucci 04:33
Well, then anyway, continue, or listeners doing engaging in 1869, same year as the Brooklyn Bridge story, but elsewhere in the world in Russia, a guy named Dmitri mendeleev was coming up with an idea and he made an observation that said, what if we classified elements not by Earth, Wind and Fire? Haha. That's a band but not by the classic Greek one, but by their atomic mass. And at the time in 1869, they only had the ability to measure a few of the atomic atomic mass. So really, basically, he had a different lens, on how to categorize things, which is really all all it is. And using the atomic lens, what happened is he created what is now we now know is the periodic table, and you learn about this in chemistry, or maybe you've forgotten that you've learned about chemistry. And when he first produced it, there were only maybe six or seven elements in there. And he predicted slots that ultimately were discovered because of of how we thought about this stuff.
Brian Lambert 05:46
There you go. So, what a great piece of history as usual, but what does that have to do with sales enablement, and I framed out a theme around sales managers. So, what's up with that? What does that have to do a sales manager?
Scott Santucci 06:01
Well, there's a couple ways that this has something to deal with it. One is categorization. So, one of the things that we're going to talk about here would be the categories of the attributes of what what makes a sales manager, a sales manager. And one of the things that the elements in the periodic table are is really is just a classification system. It's just categories. That's it. The second thing, the second reason that this is important is it's a from what to what, though whole universe, the whole idea of chemistry didn't start until after dimitrie metal of the periodic table because without it, it's not really a science. It's just a bunch of experimentations. It's alchemy. So, if it weren't for Dimitri, there wouldn't be chemistry so you can blame him. And then the third thing that makes this so important is modernization though World in 1969 was very, very, very different than the sandal, this handle clad pontificators of Plato and Aristotle. But yet somehow people kept doing the same thing over and over and over again, it took somebody different to look at it differently. And that's what we're talking about here is that the environment that we're selling in now is a different environment altogether. Maybe it's time to revisit what we're thinking about with sales managers.
Brian Lambert 07:32
Yeah, like that. And this is an interesting one because I often tell a story of hey, you know, raise your hand if you believe buyers have have drastically evolved, you know, roomful of people. Oh, absolutely. Everybody shakes their head. Okay. What if you What about marketing? they evolved? Absolutely. Everybody shakes their head. Oh, my God, I got so much stuff. complexity, oh, digitization, you know, everybody talks mumble Yeah. What about what about IT? Oh, absolutely. You know, we're all in the cloud. Okay, what about products? And how those products and platforms? Oh, yeah, you know, everything's in the cloud. It's subscription now. Yep. Okay, what about sellers? Oh my gosh, they need to change but the boy haven't they, they they're stuck in the 1800s. Everything's the same, you know, they need to elevate, they need to be different. But yeah, their worlds change too. But yes, it's still the same. That debate rages. And I say, Well, okay, cool. What about what about leadership? Oh, yeah. Everybody needs to be a better leader. build those cultures, we need to focus on inclusion and diversity and leadership and Okay, great. What about sales managers? Uhh good question. The often-forgotten sales manager, and that's the reaction I get. It's just crickets. They thought about that.
Scott Santucci 08:52
I think that's a great setup. Brian, you know, sort of going around the horn about how much things have changed. And I think also it's in my experience, and I'd love to know what you think about this is so what actually is the job of a sales manager? What what are they? What do they do?
Brian Lambert 09:10
Right? Well, it's a little bit tongue in cheek, right? People can be a little defensive when you walk up to them say, so what do you do here? Right? It's like the office episode office space. I have the obscure movie reference now. But, you know, but that is a great question. Because it's, it's a, you know, something that I think every role has to go through. Certainly, in my career, I've had to ask myself, what am I doing? What is my my role? And what's my value add? And when you do that, you end up a little bit out of the realm of your classic job description. I don't know about you, but if I'll ask the listeners here, you know, how many guys are doing exactly what your job description says. And most people would admit that what they're hired to do is is not the same thing that they're being asked to do on a day-to-day basis. And so is the same thing with sales management. And so, when you ask that question, what do they do? I think a better question is, you know, we talked about this a couple weeks ago is what's their what's their value? And what what, what are they asked to do? And what's their role value contribution in the company? And I think there's at least two camps. I don't know what you think about this, there's the compliance driven, drive your forecast, you know, look at the spreadsheets and do the reporting side. And then you have this you know, a little bit air quotes, the coach, and and these are presented as to, you know, bipolar by polar opposites, you know, not bipolar, just polar opposites of the spreadsheet jockey versus the coach. And those are your only two choices. And I think there's way more to that. And I wanted to explore that here on the podcast. But before we go on with that, what do you think of those two bifurcations either
Scott Santucci 11:00
I think in our world that we're in now with a lot of certainty, we like to put things into buckets. I think the reality is, at least when I've talked about this, sales managers are human beings. And not unlike most of us if you've ever been in a situation where in your that catch 22 spot where you're being told to do one thing, and the other thing that you're being told to do, you're gonna leave something on the table. I think most sales managers want to do right for their salespeople. Yet, they also not yet they also want to do right and they want to look be looked at the eyes of all the things that are being asked of them to perform all the tasks. I think the challenge is that the number of tasks that they're being asked to like I've heard a lot of people say sales managers, your spreadsheet jockeys, well, I think the people who say that don't really have empathy or really understand all that pressures that the sales managers are under. So, I think what I think your characterization is very fair it would be it's pretty easy to say, the company wants me to enforce the forecast. So, I'm going to live in the spreadsheet and manage, manage my sellers and ask them constantly, you know, where's your forecast and you know, the weekly practice exams begin? That's an easy thing to do, because that is a request many companies have on their sales managers. But then it's it's definitely a request. Most sales managers, particularly the ones that came through the field don't like to do because they want to do what they they think and that's being client facing. So, you have this conflict, that's, that's rife. So, I think your your your contrast, we're in the business of imposing compliance and making sure our sales managers are following but you know, the road and then the other one is, we want to help develop our people. I think those people characterizations are right? But I don't think we're going to find a pure sales manager that fits neatly into either box because they're pulled in so many different directions.
Brian Lambert 13:09
Yeah. And then, so I agree. And maybe on this podcast, we'll we'll explore a characterization. I certainly have some traits that we're going to share here at the end. But before we get there, I think if you look at and pause in this gap, you know, this, from what-to-what gap that you mentioned, with your story, and you say, Okay, well, what is that? What are the categorizations? Right, and I could, I think their listeners could probably help us come up with 100 different things that are coming at sales managers right now. But the, the, you know, three or four that come to mind, which are massively, you know, sucking the time out of the day of sales managers to me, are, you know, marketing and sales aren't aligned to buyers. You know, there's a there's a disconnect, not between my marketing and sales. It's not about sales and marketing alignment. It's about marketing aligning the buyers and sales teams aligned to buyers and managers see that and they have to work through that. Um, another one is how they're organized. And you and I have talked a lot about this. And this is becoming more and more prevalent in the digital transformation literature that's out there and the trends that you're seeing in TED Talks, the organizational structures of yesterday, can't meet the needs of buyers today. And you see all kinds of new operating models and, you know, organizational structures popping up and its managers see that that their siloed views aren't helpful. Another one is that these random acts of all the stuff that they're asked to do from attending a focus group on you know, initiative 127 of the week, to, you know, the forecasting to the new messaging, the new sales, you know, methodology, the new product, push the new CEO and date, whatever, are actually putting more burden on salespeople than helping them. And you know, unfortunately, and we've talked about this on three or four episodes, the ideas or the initiatives in the program to the projects that sellers need to participate in are actually helpful to sales, they create more complexity. And he had a sales manager seeing all this, but what are they supposed to do? And that is where I wanted to put the put the pause in here, because that's the role of sales manager in that type of complexity. And in that type of pressure, from above, from from below, customers from internal groups, I just listed three or four, there's at least, you know, another 10 or 15 that I could easily come up with, but my point is, that's the role of sales manager to go in there and help sellers be successful. When I think
Scott Santucci 15:52
I think that what you're talking about that all makes a lot of sense. And I think the the question that I'm going to answer myself here is, you know, kind of so what was so what, what what what business problems that that create? And I think that this is the challenge of the difference between executing and operating. So, this is one of those areas of what's the difference between sales enablement and sales operations. When you go through an operations standpoint and you think about things like span of control, and you say we have this number of salespeople, and is it eight is it six is it 12 whatever that number is that somebody computes in a management consulting world that span of control number then we assign a sales manager for it and for the most part, the roles forgotten after that. And so, you have this issue if you if you have sales managers who are smart people, they want to be successful. And they're they're mapped to a span of control number. And there's all this all these different variables, you get a lot of confusion about who's responsible for what. So, is the sales manager actually really responsible for enabling the rep? Or is it the responsibility of the sales enablement? department? We talked about that in one of our podcasts earlier, you should go listen, listen.
Brian Lambert 17:27
Yeah, and I totally agree because that I mean, we're obviously we're outside the realm of approving vacations or conducting performance reviews like every other line manager. This is uniquely sales.
Scott Santucci 17:40
Exactly and I think that's that that is the the lack of clarity that human resources so let's also talk about all the all the cooks in the kitchen. Like all span of control conversations, that's as a consultant you go through and think through the those different you know, what are the rules of the road and then you have all the HR requirements dealing with policies, you know trading, trading people, their jobs, every every every function in the whole company has that. What makes sales managers unique is somebody is responsible for developing a group of people that report to them. Some people believe that responsibility should be the frontline sales managers. Other people believe that responsibility should exist elsewhere. Right there we have conflict. Another challenge would be who's actually really responsible for developing the culture of the company, the culture of your individual team, you as a sales manager might want to be more aggressive or think that or the sales team might want to be more aggressive, and that might that might conflict with the overall culture of the company. Another example would be there's lots of policies about using I'll give you a quick Perfect example of that. The the storage restraint.
Brian Lambert 19:08
Hundred meg laptop storage constraint is right on the 10 meg 20 meg email constraint.
Scott Santucci 19:14
Yeah, on the surface and aggregate if you've got 50,000 employees, it makes a heck of a lot of sense that you're going to have a storage constraint because storage costs money, but storage costs pennies on the dollar. Do you really need to impose that kind of strategy limiting at the quarter end, when salespeople are sending back and forth gigantic decks of PowerPoint presentations and proposals that have massive amounts of graphics? Is that really what you want to be imposing? And these are all of the all of the nuance variables that create an environment where we we basically create lots of sales prevention in this fuzzy that fuzzy zone and you call this fuzzy zone what Brian?
Brian Lambert 19:59
Roll ambiguity, which is we laugh because when I got my PhD, I'd come at you with all these academic turns. I'm like, No, really, it's a thing. It's a bad thing. It's gonna kill us if we can get clarity.
Scott Santucci 20:13
Yeah. So, we were just talking as the reference, Brian would bring up these terms role ambiguity. And the way he brought it up really frustrated makes us like, What the hell are you talking about?
Brian Lambert 20:28
Because I'd say we have role ambiguity, we should fix it, like frickin fix it, then what do we do? Go fix it? But what is it? It's basically, it's a confusion at the individual human level, basically, right? It's confusion, which is bad because you need clarity in today's world, but it's a confusing situation. that emerges because the boundaries aren't clear at the job level.
Scott Santucci 20:53
Right? And to add to that, basically what it does is whenever you have confusion, you create an action Sales is all about action. And then what happens is when people see an action, what happens? actions are prescribed. So, yeah, you have people who aren't salespeople prescribing actions, they're the wrong actions. Let's face it, it's sort of silly to have a whole bunch of consultants come in and say, these are the activities that you need to be doing. And you go, Okay, let's go do that.
Brian Lambert 21:26
But on the flip side of that, right, and this is, you know, we're all driving, you know, back to our famous drive on the way into work here, but I'll be okay. Scott. You know, sales is a numbers game. You know, we have we have certain metrics, we have quota, of course, it's numbers driven, so activities King and, you know, number of number of phone calls, and also, you know, everybody's gotta improve their win rates. Those are numbers driven. We have to, you know, capture more market share, wallet share, that's more and more numbers driven. And then then I would even say there's this idea of, you know, simplified We need to simplify, which would cut costs out. But you know, those are all numbers. So, what's your what's your point about activity? It's, it's all those are important to have activities are important to have to drive those outcomes.
Scott Santucci 22:14
Well, first of all, no one's really going to care. If a sales manager cuts a lot of costs, it's the aggregate actions multiplied and waste that the misaligned actions of the entire sales force that are driven by this ambiguity, that's the real cost. So, let's take that off the table here, because that's a completely different exercise. And let's concentrate here on why does this matter for sales enablement? And where are the opportunities for sales enablement? And then how do you even bring this up to a sales sales VP in the first place, just to get the license to explore it. And so, what I would, what I would do is say we have a lot of people working really, really hard and the sum of the parts aren't adding up to the whole. We've done some time study analysis on our salespeople, let's do time study analysis on our sales managers and really understand what they're being asked to do something might be wrong. So that's kind of goal number one is is to get that clear. And I think the goal ultimately of doing something like that is to come with a spec of what it is that we should have a stake in the ground for what what our sales leadership our sales managers should be. Brian, you have you have some opinions on what that criteria needs to look like. In other words, think about this as the backbone how do we flesh out so that we can get away from role ambiguity and number one, please don't use that term. It is the label
Brian Lambert 23:52
Call me if you really feel any need to talk about
Scott Santucci 23:55
Exactly call Brian and Gus ambiguity. Do not call me now, now I know that my people are going to text me and say role ambiguity because that's what happens when I do this stuff. We're all a sarcastic bunch of sales enablement and sales leaders. any rate, um, and I know it's a good fun, so don't worry about it I'm not offended. But here's here's really the crux if we if we get down to it, we have to be able to first give this fuzzy thing role ambiguity and identity. So, you need to go be able to do a study to make it tackle to make it concrete. So that way somebody says, okay, Brian, now what are you going to do about it? Well, what we what we need to do is we need to create competency models, and we need to create all this other insight, but we can't do any of that, unless tying it all the way back to Dimitri. Unless we have a modern way to classify that Brian have some opinions of what a modern way to classify that looks like? What are the things What do you think the five traits? Or how should we be classifying sales managers today?
Brian Lambert 25:07
Yeah, it's a good question it, it should answer. And I'd love everybody's feedback on this. But, you know, why do we have managers in the first place? And, you know, we all know that it's, you know, times are changing. So, the manager role needs to evolve. So, what should it What should it evolve to in order for salespeople to thrive? Well, first of all, I would say that the modern sales manager needs to really demand service from the rest of the organization and from the company. They need to not be passive in what they receive, but they should have an expectation and they should hold others to that expectation in marketing and product etc. And they should be influential across the internal leadership team, to be the voice of sales and not abdicate that to somebody else. For example, in the training department that'd be the first thing. The second one I would say is to help to help reps really focus on and this this is this is gonna sound like a, you know, one of those universal platitudes, but help reps focus on what's important. The challenges today, you know, with social selling and everything else, there's so much noise out there, that helping reps focus on what's important becomes incredibly, incredibly difficult. You know, time is precious, it's way too easy to get distracted. So that's number two is help reps focus on what's important. The third attribute of a modern sales manager to me is to create the right environment for their teams to thrive. And in today's world, that environment includes frustration, a little bit of anger sometimes to vent. And you know what, to the podcast that that Scott shared it actually, I hate to say it, but maybe we should all admit it. It's an evolving Hear, there's no there's nobody out there that can just automatically go do what we're asking salespeople to do. And if you have as a manager have an expectation of managers have an expectation that it's going to be perfect, and that sellers can't bring their frustrations and their challenges back and their failures back, then you're never going to tackle those challenges. So that's the third thing. The fourth one is they need to develop their people and is a new spec for what that means the relationship between customers and reps has dramatically evolved. To me developing reps means that they're developing reps who are situationally fluid in the sales process, and understand how buyers make problems or solve problems, and how to help buyers actually overcome buyer dysfunction. I automatically say today's world that buyers don't know how to buy and there's a lot of dysfunction on the buyer side. So, develop people who can tackle that and help buyers make decision. That's the fourth thing. The fifth one is I think that they should become strategic again. I asked the question to the folks I talked to is sales management. And that role is strategic role or tactical one. To me, it's a strategic role. And that's to me the Modern Standard. But if you go back to, you know, the 1800s sales managers were the strategic force that drove the company forward close more deals. And I think that's the rightful place of today's sales manager to cut the noise and to simplify and become strategic again, they should own the strategy to communicate value through sales conversations, they shouldn't give that up, and they shouldn't back to demanding service number one, expect that help from others. So those are the five that I have got, what's your reaction? What's your thought? Or what's your reaction to those five?
Scott Santucci 28:46
So let me recap. let me recap where we've been and put this into sort of a nice executive summary. We started out with Dimitri Mendeleev. The idea of having a modern way of classifying things we talked about the reason the phenomenon that's actually occurring is there's so many roles, there's so much change, that there's a lot of confusion. And that confusion is creating either inaction or worse the wrong actions. Brian calls that has a term for that it calls that role ambiguity and role ambiguity is destructive at a multiplicative level. We talked about that business problem, being invisible, so that you should do a little bit of a study, maybe get that sponsored by a VP of Sales just so that they can sleep better at night if that if that's not happening. And in order to do that analysis, that's what it looks like. So, in order to do that, what we ultimately want to get to is a common classification system for what our sales managers should do. Brian identified five traits. Sales Managers should demand service from the rest of the company that's one trait. Another one is help reps focus on what's important. The third is to create the right environment for their teams to thrive. The fourth is to develop their people to make them situationally fluid. The fifth one is to become strategic again. That's That's my understanding of what was covered. I get that right, Brian?
Brian Lambert 30:31
Yeah. And I also say that that's, to me, the most critical role. The sales manager role is the most critical role to drive win rates in order to capture more market share more wallet, share, and overcome this complexity. That's to me why we have sales managers and we should embrace that.
Scott Santucci 30:50
So why listen to them, what should our listeners do? Immediately once they've gotten out of the accident that they had because they were just astonished by phenomenon. Crazy miracle that Dimitris periodic table started in 1869 and so to Brooklyn Bridge story, but no kidding aside, what should somebody do today? What action can they take now to go start addressing this?
Brian Lambert 31:19
Yeah, that's a great question, Scott. My advice would be to first start with clarifying the manager role, documenting it on paper and clearly define the profile of the future state of sales manager. From there, I would actually work with the management team to architect out the future state, especially with what they need to know and do to be successful. And then from there, think through how you might enable them to be successful through a series of initiatives. For example, how do you onboard sales managers in today's environment? What do you want them to focus on? What do you want them to reinforce what types Have frameworks and tools might you need to give them to be successful? So, it doesn't just become a hey, go coach type of an approach? And then finally, I would say, how do you know that they're being successful? How would you measure that? What type of feedback would you want to get from the sales reps they're managing? And then what type of metrics and measures would you want to instill in order to know if those managers are being successful in those relationships with their people?
Scott Santucci 32:27
Excellent. So, we're at time. This is a wrap. This is our conversation how, again, to review, we're talking about a different kind of construct. Brian's giving you great, great feedback. Brian is the expert on on sales manager activities. Give him a call if you if you need help with this. If you'd like more conversation about that, please email us about about two things actually. I'm going to ask you to email us ideas about how you can use how you you're using the podcasts that that we're doing so that we can share those ideas with other people. And if you have other ideas of how we can talk about these ideas to make it come to life more, please email us your feedback. Thank you so much for your insights. Brian, that's that's fantastic. I particularly like the way that you set up the you know, all the different groups and who's changed who changed who changed or change that groups, change secretaries, sales management hasn't changed at all and what i think that's that's that's really powerful. Thank you so much. Please visit us on iTunes. Please give us a rating. We'd love to see somebody people give us some great stars. We're getting great feedback. We'd love to get, share your share your feedback. It helps us and it helps us help you. Thank you so much for joining in being a part of insider nation.
Nick Merinkers 33:50
Thanks for joining us. To Become an insider and amplify your journey. Make sure you've subscribed to our show. If you have an idea for what Scott and Brian can cover in a future podcasts or have a story to share, please email them at email@example.com. You can also connect with them online by going to insidese.com following them on Twitter or sending them a LinkedIn request.