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Are you a Front Line Sales Manager? Do you still have a personal territory with a quota for that territory?

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten into a number of discussions about this topic. Unfortunately, too many managers are in this position–it’s untenable.

Think for a moment, each of these jobs are very different. The job of a high performing sales person, an individual contributor requires focus and full time dedication. Likewise, the job of a front line sales manager requires focus and full-time dedication.

Given this, how do we think a person can be successful doing both these roles, splitting time between each. It’s a classic lose-lose-lose situation. The people the manager is responsible for, don’t get the coaching they need. The company doesn’t get the results they expect–either from the manager or from the team, and it’s unfair to the manager.

I can’t think of many situations where having both managerial and personal territory responsibility is acceptable.

Having said this, sometimes you will find yourself in this position–do everything to convince your manager that this will actually drive lower performance. But if you can’t succeed in getting the role redefined, consider the following:

  1. Do everything you can to make sure the team you have is very small. Keep it to 3 or 4 people.
  2. Make sure the personal territory you manage is small–both in terms of responsibility and for that personal goal. Again, if you carry a full individual quota and the roll up of your people, it is just an impossible job.
  3. Block you calendar and stick to it rigorously. Choose the day/time blocks where you will manage your own territory. It should be much less than 50% of your time. The rest of your time should be dedicated to leading and developing your team.
  4. When the going gets rough, default to your team. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only when. You will have too much on your plate, managing the territory and your team. Always, always, default to your team. It’s where you have the biggest leverage in producing the results expected.
  5. Do everything you can to justify hiring a new sales person to take over your personal territory. That dedicated person is going to be able the produce the results you don’t have the time to produce and grow the territory at a much rapid rate.

If you are a top sales executive, think about this seriously, do everything you can to avoid compromising the time and performance of your front line sales managers. You know both jobs require at least 150% focus, do the math–it just doesn’t work.

(For a much more detailed discussion, refer to the chapter on this topic, starting on page 35 of Sales Manager Survival Guide)