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Top Sales Enablement Priorities

by David Brock on February 7th, 2017

Rightfully, sales enablement gets a lot of attention these days.  Dozens of articles and studies talk about the importance of sales enablement in developing the capabilities of sales people.  Organizations like the Sales Enablement Society is bringing the discussion and frameworks for sales enablement to the front and center of our collective attentions.

The priorities cover a lot of areas:

  • On boarding
  • Learning and development
  • Talent management
  • Content
  • Systems, tools, processes
  • ….and more

With the exception of articles by a small number of people including Mike Kunkle and Tamara Schenk, there is one critical area that’s notably absent.

What about Front Line Sales Management development/enablement?

Probably the single most influential person in developing sales people to reach their highest levels of performance is the Front Line Sales Manager.  These managers are involved in working with their teams on a daily basis, they understand the strengths and weaknesses of each individual.

However, as we look at the investments made in developing the capabilities of Front Line Sales Management, it’s appalling.  In the Sales Manager Survival Guide, I outline $4-6 billion spent annually in training sales people, over $20 billion spent annually in sales and marketing automation tools.  Billions are spent in Content Development.

Yet only a few $100 million is spent in Front Line Sales Manager development.

Increasingly, I read articles about dedicated “Sales Enablers,” working to coach and develop sales people.

Where is enabling the Front Line Sales Manager in these discussions?

It’s odd they are absent in these discussions when the job of the Front Line Sales Manager is maximizing the performance of each individual on their team.

Since that’s also the goal of sales enablement, why isn’t enabling Front Line Sales Managers at the top of the priorities for sales enablement.  It would seem if we are putting the right managers in place, enabling them to perform at the highest levels, we would drive huge performance increases with sales people.

All the other things we talk about as sales enablement priorities fail to achieve their full potential without the active engagement of Front Line Sales Managers.

Those billions spent in learning and development have no enduring impact without the ongoing coaching and reinforcement of the Front Line Sales Manager.  The billions spent in systems and tools achieve no impact unless Front Line Sales Managers are leveraging these tools and demonstrating their power to their people every day (then perhaps we can stop talking about CRM compliance).

We can never hope to have a sustainable impact in improving sales performance unless we put the Front Line Sales Manager at the front and center of sales enablement and until we start talking about how we enable them.



  1. Hi Dave,

    thanks for calling out the need to enable sales managers!

    Our CSO Insights first sales manager enablement report will be published by the end of this month! Stay tuned….


  2. Dave,

    Well said. I’ve always thought of a sales organization like the military. Not taking anything away from lieutenants and corporals/privates, but in the Army, it’s the Captains and Sergeants that make the machine work. I think of sales managers like Captains or Sergeants…they are on the front lines, they have the pulse of what is really happening in the competitive landscape, they have the opportunity to lead, teach and grow the team.

    Investing in them is investing in the success of the enterprise.

    Good selling,


  3. I could not agree more Dave. I am spending more of my coaching on sales managers than ever before.

    • Thanks Mike! It’s important the sales enablement community recognize their effectiveness will be limited if they don’t focus first on sales managers.

  4. Well said, Dave. Sales managers are pivotal to the success of the entire sales team, so enabling them should be a no-brainer. Surprisingly enough, I read that nearly 20% of companies don’t make an investment in sales manager training and enablement. Thankfully my company provides sales managers with leadership training that’s personal to their needs and focuses on sales enablement tools and skills to manage their entire team. This really keeps our entire team moving in the same direction as everyone from leadership to new sales reps alike are receiving proper enablement. Thanks for highlighting such an important reminder for teams!

    • Thanks for the great comment Rachel. The managers at Lessonly are fortunate that you are making the investment in their development. Too few companies do this. Regards, Dave

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