High-performing sales managers disproportionally focus more of their discretionary time on customer facing activities geared toward near-term commercial wins.

However, according to Gartner, many sales managers are constantly distracted with fighting internal battles for their sales reps.

If sales managers are to deliver on the objective of scaling commercial impact, chief sales officers (CSOs) and other sales leaders must implement organisational changes to help relieve the burden of internal, low-impact activities.

“Boosting manager effectiveness isn’t just an individual challenge, it has to be an organisational initiative at the same time,” says Brent Adamson, distinguished vice-president for the Gartner Sales practice. “Sales leaders must give managers air cover to focus on the activities that help them scale commercial impact.”

According to a Gartner survey of more than 300 sales managers, high-performing sales managers focus on activities such as adapting commercial messages to the local market, helping advance deals, negotiating for sellers and deal-focused problem solving with sellers. These activities, geared toward more near-term deal execution, are often prioritised over longer term skill and territory development by high-performing sales managers.

“High-performing sales managers have a laser-like focus on helping sales reps get deals done. They’re not heads down in a spreadsheet running yet one more report, nor are they in internal meetings sorting out cross-silo conflicts or time-consuming requests for support,” adds Adamson. “Instead, they are focusing on the activities that help reps help customers move deals forward.”

However, Gartner research shows that 58% of sale managers report they struggle to accomplish all the tasks they have been given in the time allotted. And 52% state they have to work around organizational processes in order to get their work done.

This burden, caused by internal processes, can negatively impact a sales manager’s overall quota attainment by 18%.

Gartner recommends CSOs consider the following organizational design principles to help relieve sales managers’ internal burden and allow them to focus more discretionary time on activities that drive commercial impact:

* Re-evaluate All Manager Tasks: Senior sales leaders must step back and re-evaluate sales managers’ daily tasks to identify the ones that truly belong in the sales manager role. Make sure that past precedent doesn’t determine the current sales manager role.

* Disqualify Low-Impact Tasks: When re-evaluating all manager tasks, sales leaders should look to exhaust all other role options prior to assigning anything to the manager role.

* Exercise Caution Eliminating Tasks: Sales leaders should offload tasks where possible but exercise some caution when doing so as most tasks exist for a reason.

* Automate Processes to Protect Discrete Tasks: Sales leaders must remember that processes are often easier to automate than discrete tasks. When possible, make sure to drive tasks into clear, efficient processes.