Great sales leaders have a sales management cadence that sets the rhythm of their team.
The idea of a sales cadence is not new. Sales organizations have been using the concept for years to structure how and when sellers deploy touchpoints with prospects and clients throughout the buyer’s journey. Rarely, though, is a sales management cadence used to build formality into frontline sales managers’ schedules.
In his article, Great Sales Leaders Have Incredible Sales Cadence – Do you?, Josh Horstmann explains that in his experience consulting with a great number of organizations, the one thing that separates great sales leaders from average ones is the quality of their sales management cadence.
What is cadence? Cadence is defined as “The flow or rhythm of events, especially the pattern in which something is experienced.”
Building formality into the flow of your sales team’s management rhythm provides sales managers with the framework they need to succeed and sellers with the coaching and development they need to reliably hit their number.
Why You Need A Sales Management Cadence
Frontline sales managers today have a lot on their plates. They are hiring and firing, training and coaching, they have new products and messaging to bring to market, CRM data to maintain, reports to pull, meetings to attend, pipeline reviews, joint calling… The list of activities seems endless and they are all high-priority. In this environment, it is difficult for even some veteran sales managers, not to mention your newbies, to know exactly how much time they should be spending on each task or activity. A sales management cadence provides your managers with a framework for success.
Your sales management cadence also helps you set expectations with your managers so you can focus on optimizing these activities, rather than worrying about whether or not they are happening and to what standard. This level of activity management is often deployed for rep performance management, but rarely for frontline managers. With a documented sales management cadence, your managers know exactly what you expect them to do and how often you expect them to do it. There is no ambiguity nor surprises when the time comes for one-on-ones and performance reviews with your managers.
Finally, a sales management cadence gets your entire sales team pulling together. In his article, Horstmann relates the concept of a sales management cadence to rowing a boat. He writes:
It can be such a struggle – as you fight choppy waters, you can’t keep the boat straight, and your progress is stunted. The key is just to find the right rhythm. Once you find that rhythm, the momentum of your entire team will increase, and you can all ride smoothly. All of a sudden you realize that you’re moving at 100 mph, but it feels effortless. All that you notice now is the cool breeze on your face and all the other teams in your wake.
If you have ever rowed a boat, you know exactly what Horstmann is referring to. That feeling—sometimes fleeting—when everyone is in-sync and cutting across the water almost effortlessly. When you build your sales management cadence, you are putting the framework in place to get to the point with your sales team. It takes work and discipline, but it is possible.
Building Your Sales Management Cadence
To get your team on the same rhythm, you need to take the necessary steps to lay the foundation, create the framework, and then implement your cadence throughout the team. For established sales teams with tenured managers, this process can take some time. Remember to stay focused on the long-term goal and be patient with the process.
Step 2: Determine which management interactions are important to your team. You may want to collaborate with your sales enablement and operations teams to align on what interactions are important to the organization as a whole and determine the desired outcomes.
Step 3: Select the desired frequency and duration of meetings for your team. Should frontline managers be doing weekly one-on-ones, bi-weekly pipeline reviews, and so on? Clearly document the specific cadence of these activities in your sales management cadence.
Step 4: Share your new sales management cadence with managers. Note that it is not enough to simply attach it to an email with the ol’ “have at it”. Sit your managers down and outline specifically why you are implementing a sales management cadence, what it means for them and how they should use it, what your expectations are, and how you will be tracking that they are using it.
Expect to coach your sales managers on how to use your sales management cadence on an ongoing basis. Check in with them during your one-on-ones to determine if they are using it and to what standard, listen to and understand their feedback, and offer course-corrections when needed.
Common Mistakes Sales Managers Make with Sales Management Cadence
1. Managers take over sales calls
Joint calling exists so managers can observe their sellers in action, assess their capabilities, and provide coaching. But this cannot happen if every time a manager joins a call the seller barely speaks. That sales call may go well, but what about the thousands of others the manager is not on? It is OK for a manager to have a clearly defined partner role on any sales call, but taking over calls will ultimately impede seller development.
2. Managers observe too few sales calls
Spending time with their team in real-world calls and meetings is a critical sales management activity. Not only can they help close business, but it also allows managers to be attuned to their sellers’ development needs. Inexperienced managers will just join the calls of their newer sellers and trust more tenured sellers have mastered the conversation. This is a short-sighted view of seller development and coaching.
3. Frequently rescheduling or canceling internal meetings
For sales managers, there is always a critical call to join or activity that feels urgent. The temptation is to push regularly scheduled internal meetings to “fight fires”. Instead, sales managers must set the expectation that recurring internal meetings are the most important events on the team’s calendar.
4. Internal meetings lack purpose and agenda
When sellers don’t know what is expected of them and the manager is not prepared, regularly scheduled internal meetings end up wasting time. If this happens enough, trust erodes and everyone takes the time together less seriously.
5. Trying to do too much in one meeting
A sales manager’s favorite catchall is the 1:1. This (often weekly) meeting may be part forecast review, part pipeline review or part deal review—sometimes all at the same time! While lack of time is a real challenge, each of these meetings can be meaty subjects in and of themselves. It’s helpful for both manager and seller to separate these conversations into different meetings to create clarity in how the time will be spent.
The impact of building (and, importantly, maintaining) a sales management cadence is improved sales performance through clarity, structure, and consistency in the interactions between your frontline managers and their sellers. Once your team hits its rhythm, you will experience a renewed flow.