Being a front line manager is not an easy job. Figuring out how to enable front line managers isn’t any easier.
Danielle Stefanello, Global Director of Sales Enablement & Effectiveness at WeWork, explains how to best enable front line managers and unpacks her five key competencies for an effective sales leader. She also shares how the weakness you have as a sales rep carry over to management… and what to do about it.
From active listening to stakeholder management, Danielle and Jeremey discuss their experiences as managers and share immediately actionable ways to become a better leader.
Listen to this episode for answers to questions like:
- Why should you want to grow people off your team?
- How did Danielle coach Jeremey on active listening?
- How can you make the most out of one-on-one meetings with your manager?
- What is her trick for becoming better at hiring?
- What can you do to better your chances of getting a promotion? (Hint: collaboration is key!)
Jeremey: You’ve been an SDR, an AE, a manager, and a director. You have walked the walk in sales. Was there a particular time in the course of your career as you progressed through those roles where you noticed a gap in manager effectiveness?
Danielle: Yes, actually with myself. I was a pretty good rep. I hit my goal and I was good at learning from others and taking it and making it my own. But there were a lot of things I wasn’t good at.
I definitely wasn’t a great active listener at times. There were skills that prohibited me in my day to day that I had to learn. I had to overcome and find ways to get better. When I became a manager for the first time, I sat across from a rep and they said, “I really want help with active listening.” I didn’t really know what to say. I was like, oh… just listen more.
It was at that moment where I started to really realize that the gaps that you have as a salesperson just perpetuate when you become a manager, and then when you actually have to help those people close the skill gap, you don’t really know how to.
Jeremey: Imagine that I came to you and said that I have an active listening gap. How would you coach me through that now?
Danielle: What I like to do is actually define what is active listening. What are you actually trying to achieve when you’re active listening? What’s your goal?
I think a lot of times, those some buzz words. When it comes to actually coaching on active listening, doing a lot of listening to your conversations is helpful. Break it down to the moments where you thought you should have been active listening. You have to have some self-discovery around why maybe you weren’t.
Usually, it’s that you’re thinking about the next thing you’re going to say or your product that you have to sell. One of the things that I find is really helpful is actually doing a discovery call with somebody or cold call with someone where they have no idea what product they’re selling, or what I need or what I want.
Do that over and over again. Having a natural conversation and allowing them to creatively give me a solution or prescribe a solution gets them out of the habit of knowing what they’re going to say. The gap or the root of the problem is that they’re anticipating what they want to say and they’re not listening and responding to what’s going on.
By having people start to practice just having a conversation and having to respond to what’s going on, it gets them in this habit of just being comfortable listening and being comfortable with maybe failing or not having the right solution. A lot of times people don’t even know what active listening is or why they want to achieve that goal. I always start by asking why. What will that help you do? If you’re a good active listener, what will you achieve?
Key Competencies for Effective Management
Jeremey: When I’ve been in enablement roles myself, I’ve had kind of a set of five-ish categories. I’m not going to be able to list them all right now, but they included things like knowing about our company, knowing about our market, having selling skills, and having an understanding of the product. Do you have a similar framework of what you think the key competencies are for an effective sales manager?
Danielle: When it comes to coaching, we try and think about manager competencies and what good looks like in their role. In order to be good at your job, you need to make someone good at their job, but then make them great. Then, obviously try and get them off your team, grow them off your team.
The other one would be operational management through excellent forecasting, managing inputs, and making sure that you know that the reps are doing what they need to do every day. We talked a lot last week with our leader on the concept of micromanaging. That it is not a bad thing if you create processes and accountability for people on your team to act as the CEO of their business. However, they need to have that level of accountability.
The third one is hiring the right talent through talent evaluation and getting people onto your team. The fourth one we talked about is stakeholder management. There are so many people that rely on frontline managers, people that they impact. Managing those relationships is crucial. The fifth one is what we call values-based leadership or inspirational leadership.
Teaching How to Hire
Jeremey: Let’s talk briefly about hiring. How do you teach managers to be better at hiring? What’s your best advice there?
Danielle: This is actually a hot topic for us right now. One of the things that I think organizations do a lot of is interview training on what questions to ask. That is all through feel. They need to get the feeling for it.
What we try and do is align as an organization on the qualities or the competencies that are non-negotiable for us. Then, we back into questions and do some situational role-playing for the manager. I’ll come up to the front of the room and script out questions and answers. We’ll stop after each one and just have an open conversation. It gears them up to get the feel for when they should dig in and what things are concerning.
Nothing’s in a vacuum, we always say that. You’re not going to ask one question and know if someone is good or not. It’s just about picking up the feeling and knowing when you need to continue to dig in. Those are some things that we’re doing now – this simulation, training, and aligning with the managers.
Jeremey: Taking the time to think through great hires that you were wrong on – or bad hires that you were wrong on – and figure out the root cause and how you can fix that in the future is so critical.
THERE’S A LOT MORE TO HEAR! Listen to the full podcast for more on driving strategy.
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