The Importance of Installing Managerial Standards

It is hard to believe that Fall is practically here but with the start of the football season, the final sprint to the end of the year is right around the corner. The year ahead should be interesting with interest rates projected to rise and refinancing on the decline.

In the last few weeks, I have discussed first line managers (FLMs) and the different roles they play in sales origination. In particular, I mentioned what managers should consider when deciding to coach and train sales people for skill improvement. The reality is that not all individuals will respond and engage in developing their sales skills and thus, are not a good investment of a manager’s coaching time and resources. Similar to professional sports teams, not all players will make the first team.

This week I would like to summarize ways that companies can help FLMs excel in their role as a “people” manager. In my view, there are seven areas of responsibility that a FLM has when supervising sales people. They are:

1. Develop an applicant pool of sales candidates
2. Select the best originators
3. On-board new talent
4. Coaching
5. Manage an originator’s performance
6. Reinforce sales behaviors and retain sales reps
7. Implement the organization’s priorities

When I am consulting, most sales problems occur when the FLM determines his or her own responsibilities with little support from corporate. These companies operate with the view that individual FLMs should be able to run their business. As a result, companies seem reluctant to install standards for fear that managers will take their branch and go to a competitor. Certainly some managers will not react well to having “people” standards installed by companies but in my experience, the better managers will support them.

Listed below are a partial standard of resources that companies should provide to FLMs. The remaining standards will be discussed next week.

1. Develop an applicant pool of sales candidates: a) companies should provide what recruiting efforts work best; b) HR should manage the outside recruiters and online sources; c) HR should manage the applicant pool from interview to offer (There are numerous online tools to manage this electronically. If your company does not have this type of tool, I would be glad to recommend vendors.)

2. Select the best originators: a) companies should install a structured interview and evaluation process that all managers must follow; b) pre-hire assessments are a must and need to be validated instruments (See attached for a review of the legal issues regarding pre hire assessments:
View the PDF.); c) multiple interviews including operational personnel is critical. Behavioral-based questions should be used during the interview to determine the internal truth about the person.

3. On-board new talent: a) there should be a uniform on-boarding sequence that all managers will follow. Product and computer system training is just the beginning of the on-boarding process; b) sales training should be part of the process to ensure that a company’s sales sequence is followed correctly by their sales staff; c) there should be a checklist of on-boarding tasks that the FLM will follow.