The Recession of FY08/09 had a lasting impact on sales forces and the first line manager role is no exception. During the recession, managers spent more time selling and less time on administrative work. Travel time went up slightly and coaching time suffered.  Instead of seeing a reverse of these trends, the recovery period (defined as July 2010 – present) has only seen these trends increase. The pressures of the recession have continued in to the soft recovery, causing managers to focus on closing deals, rather than relying on the reps. Also, managers spent less time on order entry and customer service during the recession, but the recovery period saw their time here return to pre-recession levels.

Front Line Manager Time Stats

1. Managers Selling Time Way Up – Admin Time Way Down. Engaged selling time increased from 16.3% pre-recession, to 19.8% in the recession, and increased again to 22.7% in the recovery period. This represents an increase off 39%, and translates into an additional 2.5 hours in selling per week. This assumes a 40 hour work week. An increase of 3.5 hours based on a 50 hour work week is more realistic. This comes fully at the expense of back-office, administration, and implementation problems, all of which went down from 30.4% to 28% in the recession, and again to just 23.8% in recovery.

2. Manager Travel Up, Coaching Down Slightly. It goes with the territory. If you’re selling more, you’re traveling more. You’re time with reps is going to be focused on closing deals, and less focused on planning, coaching, and skills development.

3. Order Entry & Customer Service – Down and Up. The recession meant fewer orders to enter, and fewer customers to service. The recovery shows these activities returning to pre-recession levels.

Parting Shot: Managers selling helps Chief Sales Executives hit the number. When the pressure is on, managers can step up and sell. If manager administrative time is down due to improved processes and automation, this is a welcome trend. But, the recession seems to have permanently increased the sales rep’s pre-selling time and the manager’s time to more selling. This is proof that budgets and decisions have moved higher up requiring the manager to play “super closer”. But managers have another job to do besides close deals… you guessed it, manage. Have managers learned to manage more efficiently? Are they multi-tasking better – managing while they help sell? With the lines between reps and managers blurring, Sales Executives will be more challenged to drive important changes in their organization, a process that relies heavily on the first-line manager. And for those of us involved in sales transformation work, this is a particularly important trend to watch!

Visit the Alexander Group to learn more.

Original author: Paul Vinogradov

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