A frontline sales manager’s mission is to attain team quota, which is usually a large number that’s split by a team of individual sales reps. If all reps attain their individual quotas, the manager’s number is also met. Simple, right? Ha! It’s not as easy as it sounds. 

Why? Because every single sales professional has his or her own unique history, experiences, habits, methods, goals, aspirations, personality, etc. Some will excel in certain areas while others may struggle. To be consistently successful, a frontline sales manager must not only be skilled at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members, but have the ability to coach for incremental improvement. And if that’s not difficult enough, the manager must also foster an environment that breeds loyalty and guards against rep turnover. 

The Kite Framework covers the four Ps of effective frontline sales management, all of which are measurable and should be tracked:

  1. Plan
  2. Process
  3. Priorities
  4. Problems

 

Plan

Planning is expected of reps at both the account and opportunity levels. It can be measured across three key areas:

 

Qualification:

Account Qualification: If the rep is staring at a list of 100 accounts, it’s important to know which ones to go after, which requires research and planning

Opportunity Qualification: Is the deal winnable and worth it? Not every opportunity is worth spending time on, especially at the expense of doing something else that’s a better use of your time (opportunity cost — pun intended). 

Sometimes you choose not to go after the deal because you looked at the requirements and you know your company gets their tails kicked 9.9 times out of 10. That deal may not be winnable. On the other hand, you may have a perfectly-winnable deal, but the deal size is small. Knowing it’ll take just as much time and effort to close that small deal as it would a larger deal, it may not be worth it, depending on how you’re performing already that year.

 

Value:

Account: Once you’ve done your account planning, you’re now outbounding into the account. To outbound successfully, you must come to the table with the right value proposition that’s based on the challenges you found during your account research.

Opportunity: Once an opportunity is on the table, the rep must have a plan on how to win the opportunity. It all begins with crafting a plan that focuses on solving the prospect’s challenge(s) at hand, FIRST, before going into all the other reasons why this prospect should do business with your company. Without this kind of planning and concentration, the rep is at risk of the prospect losing focus or getting lost in the details. 

 

Communication:

Initial Communication (Account Planning): Once a rep, SDR, or BDR has the value proposition down, it’s all about communicating that value proposition effectively as part of their outbound efforts. Basic personalization doesn’t fit the bill any longer.  It’s not about just dumping your feature list into an email. It’s all about planning to show how your solution can solve very specific problems your prospect is facing, based on your thorough research.

Prospect Internal Communication (Opportunity Planning): Your champion is now singing your praises internally, but how well? Is the champion saying the right things and sharing the right collateral? Arming your champion with the right way to communicate your value propositions internally can be the difference between winning and losing. Ensure your written communications are forwardable. Reps should think about who might lay eyes on a piece of content or collateral and plan accordingly by asking themselves, “If the CTO saw this, what would he glean or if the CMO saw this, how would she interpret the message?”

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Process:

Measuring sales process effectiveness is just as important as the planning aspect of the Kite Framework, but requires much more attention to detail and coaching from the sales manager. We look at this across three areas:

Pipeline: How is the rep’s pipeline production based on the company’s recommended pipeline/quota ratio?

Win Rate: How would you rate the rep’s performance around winning the “winnable” deals?

Predictability: How well does the rep forecast or predict close dates?

 

Priorities

How focused is the rep on the things that matter most? It’s important to coach reps on how to identify distractions. They should learn to question everything they do by asking themselves, “Is this the best use of my time at this very moment?”

 

Problems

This is more about measuring the manager than the rep. One of the most valuable things a sales manager can do is to solve problems for their reps, which not only increases active selling time but breeds loyalty and reduces stress. There are two categories of problems managers can solve for:

Internal: 

  • Commissions: Maybe the rep didn’t get paid what she was expecting. Do you really want her wasting hours hunting down why? No. A simple, “Go focus on ABC, while I take care of that for you” goes a long way.
  • Deal Desk: Not getting internal approvals fast enough.
  • Technical: Not getting technical answers fast enough or maybe there’s a demo quality issue.
  • Legal: Legal could be dragging their feet or maybe there’s a personality conflict between your internal legal resource and the prospect’s legal resource. The manager should help resolve this and not force it on the rep who’s probably already stressed about the situation.

 

External

  • Critical Opponents: A rep is running into a major blocker in a deal because of a critical opponent. Helping the rep through these situations is essential.
  • Gatekeepers: Sometimes a little manager involvement can help a seller get through a tough gatekeeper.
  • Executive Alignment: The sales manager should build relationships with leaders from the prospect’s company whenever possible. This will likely come in handy down the line when there’s a challenge you may need executive support to overcome.

 

Loyalty

Loyalty is earned and if a manager doesn’t actively work to earn it, key performers will absolutely leave. This is typically measured across three areas

Culture: Am I providing my team with the appropriate rewards and recognition? Also, am I fostering a collaborative environment where the rep feels supported and a part of the team.

Development: Am I aware of my team members’ personal and professional aspirations? What am I doing to proactively help them achieve their goals?

Have Their Backs: When there’s an issue, am I going to bat for my rep (internal advocacy)? If each member of my team were asked independently if I had their backs, what would they say?

The “Loyalty String” (from Forecastable’s Kite framework) is such an important aspect of systematic sales team management. If your rep is performing exceptionally well, then that Kite is flying high and wild. With a weak loyalty string, it’ll eventually snap and that rep will leave to go work for another company that’ll be glad to have him. On the other hand, if there are holes all over your kite, it’s eventually going to hit the ground and no matter how strong your loyalty string is, that rep will likely leave you because he’s not having fun and making money.

FREE ACCESS to Kite Framework Overview & Team-Tracking Template