Do you want to avoid the cycle of management failure and create a success system that will keep you on top? It's not theory - it's based on our careers as sales executives and our work with many sales and customer service organizations over the past sixteen years.

Principle # 1 - Managers Make a Difference
The overall effectiveness of a sales or customer service organization is directly related to the effectiveness of its front-line supervisors and managers. The time you invest training these people will reduce turnover, increase productivity, and build a strong base of satisfied and repeat customers that can be leveraged into opening new accounts. That will produce higher profits. Investing in training your front-line supervisors and managers is smart business.

Principle # 2 - Managers Lift The Entire Organization
If you're not investing in your front-line supervisors and managers, how can you improve the quality of your sales and customer service people? Training the individual performers alone will fail. We've seen it time and time again. Clients will train their individual contributors and either don't include the supervisors or managers or don't train the managers on what to do afterwards. Our smartest clients train the entire team.

Principle # 3 - Effective Training is a Process, Not an Event
Any engineer will tell you that an effective process requires training, supervision, quality control and reinforcement. This is particularly true for sales and customer service organizations trying to increase their production and effectiveness. They require skills training. When the training is delivered as a one-time event (like at the annual meeting) it doesn't last. People are left to go their own way. They quickly fall back into their old bad habits or unproductive activities. Events certainly can be fun - but don't confuse them with training. Implementing best practices is a process that requires time and effort. Our smartest clients reinforce this process with their front-line supervisors and managers.

Principle # 4 - Effective Managers Coach All Their People All the Time
We have seen huge improvements in the effectiveness of sales and customer service organizations when managers are trained to coach their people all the time - not just when things are not going well. It's usually too late then. The most effective managers know how to set goals and expectations, create the right emotional climate for their people, conduct performance reviews offering praise as well as constructive criticism, and listen to their people. Too many senior managers are unaware of how paying attention to these issues actually drives results. Our smartest clients know the importance of coaching all their people all the time.

Principle # 5 - Practice Manager Fundamentals Consistently
Keep investing in the training and development of your front-line supervisors and managers. Practice the fundamentals of good management consistently and constantly. If you develop your frontline sales and customer service management team, it's likely they will be focused on developing their people and driving your business. Strong leadership examples begin at the top of any organization. That's smart!

That's why we believe: managers make the difference! Remember that good managers are not magicians or miracle workers. They don't have a bag of magic pixie dust to sprinkle on their people. Your sales and customer service teams needs both great coaches (front-line supervisors and managers) and great players. It's impossible to hire all the great supervisors and managers you'll need from the outside. You need to develop them as coaches internally. And they in turn will help will develop their people - the people that touch your clients and customers.

If you want to improve the quality and production of your sales and customer service organizations, start by improving the quality of your front-line supervisors and managers. Provide them the tools to be successful. Not to do so would indeed be dumb! It is also costly. As our sign says - you can't fix dumb!

Author's Bio: 

Len D’Innocenzo and Jack Cullen are co-founders of Corporate Sales Coaches, LLC. Each has over twenty years experience as sales and customer service management executives. They are featured speakers, course developers and facilitators, and authors of two books; The Agile Manager’s Guide to Customer Focused Selling and The Agile Manager’s Guide to Coaching to Maximize Performance – Velocity Business Publishing – 1999 and 2001. For more information, contact 215-493-2465 or 678-341-9051 or visit our website at