Zach gave this presentation at the Future of Sales Festival in December 2021.

My name is Zach Barney, I’m VP of Sales at Vehlo. I started out in 2010, working for a mortgage startup. I have been in software sales my entire career. It's all been software, it's all been sales, and the past nine years I've been in leadership-type roles.

In this article, I’ll talk about the characteristics of the frontline sales leader role and I’ll also discuss the three key focuses for effective frontline sales leadership.

Here’s our main talking points:

  • The role of a front line sales leader
  • Being in a leadership role
  • #1 Regular team meetings
  • #2 Field work
  • #3 1:1s
  • Bonus insights 🎁

Let’s go ahead and dive in 👇

The frontline sales leader

What we think it’s going to be like 💭

The frontline sales leader is the hardest role in an organization, at least on the sales side.

Going in, this is what I thought my job would be like having these young hungry people, just super anxious to succeed and look to me for coaching.

I'll lay out the game plan, and show them how to do it and we'll make a lot of money and everybody will get promoted.

Turns out, it was a lot harder than I anticipated.

What it often ends up as 💬

What often happens is sales leaders get overwhelmed. You go from being a rep, where your sole focus is driving revenue, closing deals, working your pipeline and prospecting, day in and day out.

It's hard work, but it's simple work because you're focused.

Salespeople need to be incredibly selfish with their time. It needs to be about their deals because that's what the company hired them to do and how they drive the most value.

When you move into a leadership role, everybody wants a piece of your time.

Not only do you have reps to manage and coach, but you have other departments that want to collaborate and strategize with you.

It makes it hard to find time in the day to actually do your job. I've gotten overwhelmed almost every single time with how busy I ended up being, and ultimately ended up becoming a master of none.

It's a big problem.

Being in a leadership role: You’re a boss, act like one

Say ‘no’ to the busy work 🚫

When you're moving into a leadership role for the first time or in a new company, you need to get comfortable with saying no to the busy work.

If somebody asked you for a report, and you've already built a dashboard in Salesforce or in your BI platform, point them there.

Just like as a sales rep, it's okay to say no to something that doesn't directly drive revenue, as a manager it's okay to say no to something that doesn’t directly affect you coaching your team to success.

Automate what you can 🤖

Before you can point somebody to a dashboard you've already built, you’ve got to build the dashboard!

The first thing I do when I take over a new team within our portfolio, is build individual dashboards and team dashboards for every single team and person I manage, with all of their key performance indicators and any information I want to see.

This way, I don't have to go back and redo it every time. Any information other people are going to ask me for, I can just point them to the dashboard and save myself from busy work every time that's asked by my boss, or my counterparts in other departments.