A core function of front line sales management is to amplify the results of the team. Due to rapid promotions to management and a lack of core skills development in reps, I am seeing a recurring trend that is killing the leverage we should be getting from managers.
If you are leading an AE team and you find yourself on discovery calls beyond a 90 day ramp period, then you have a problem. An early warning sign is that you realize core sales hygiene factors like call planning, meeting management and progression is not being done by your AE. Regardless of whether or not the rep understands your product, industry or customer profile, the fundamentals remain the same and should be evident.
Increasingly I am seeing very earnest new managers with overflowing schedules who cannot see the forest for the trees because they are carrying their AEs every step of the way. When a rep is off ramp, the most sensible customer interaction points for managers are as follows:
- As a door opener to the executive at the start of an engagement (Only if they have a personal relationship, otherwise the rep should just start high themselves).
- As a tool for getting higher up the prospective customer’s org chart for peer to peer meetings.
- As the point of escalation or as a commercial contact for late stage negotiations.
And that is it. If you are in meetings that are about anything other than this, then it is likely that you have a development need with your rep. If they are a new rep, then it tells me that they haven’t ramped successfully and this role is not for them.
This phenomenon is most common in mid-market and enterprise businesses where there is not a straight forward development path via VSB or SMB from SDR to AE. This is why organizations like IBM, Oracle, SAP et al, have long career development programs that develop inside sales representatives over a number of years in order to face the complexity of the enterprise sale.
If you are pushing your rep across the line in a wheelbarrow, then who is actually running the race?