Not All Heroes Wear Capes: New Study Reveals Front Line Sales Managers Struggle To Lead increasingly Large, Remote Teams

July 25, 2019

Showpad’s “The Critical Role of the Front Line Sales Manager” study finds that Sales managers don’t have enough tools and training for successful transition to management

CHICAGO, July 25, 2019 – Today’s Sales managers have a tough job. To understand the challenges they face, Showpad surveyed more than 500 Sales managers across the globe who manage quota-carrying Sales representatives. Key findings, available in the new report The Critical Role of the Front Line Sales Manager, reveal that today’s sales managers are being tasked with overseeing large and increasingly disparate teams, while the demands on their time also continue to grow. Almost half of today’s front line sales managers (46%) oversee teams of 11 or more reps, while 79% manage at least one remote employee. As a result, one in three sales managers doesn’t have enough time to provide the coaching necessary to drive their team’s success. 

“Front line sales managers are the unsung heroes of any sales organization. They set the tone for the entire team and help sellers hone the skills they need to succeed. Yet, these front line sales managers often find themselves under-resourced and overworked,” said Theresa O’Neil, Chief Marketing Officer of Showpad. “As the complexities of managing a Sales team continue to grow, it’s imperative that organizations equip these managers with the tools and resources to automate time-consuming tasks and deliver personalized training and coaching at scale.”

The Average Sales Team Has Changed

Today’s front line Sales managers are tasked with leading larger teams than ever. As these teams grow and become more dispersed and diverse, the challenge of training and coaching becomes more difficult and complex.

  • Managers are overseeing larger teams: Nearly half (46%) lead teams with 11 or more employees, and 20% are responsible for teams comprised of 20 or more people.
  • Remote employees are becoming the norm: 79% of front line Sales managers have at least one team member that works remotely. Over half (52%) indicate at least half their team works remotely, and 12% report their entire team works remotely.
  • More representatives are older than their managers: Less than half (45%) of front line Sales managers are older than the majority of their team members, and an additional quarter (25%) are about the same age, making a “one size fits all” coaching approach ineffective across different generations.

Sales Managers Feel Inadequately Equipped to Coach Their Teams

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of Sales managers had less than five years of experience as a rep before transitioning to management. With a relatively short tenure as a rep, it’s no surprise that managers feel they lack the knowledge needed to effectively manage and lead their teams. In addition, they are stretched thin between admin work and internal tasks and struggle to find the time needed to effectively coach their teams.

  • Workplaces don’t provide enough help: 19% of front line Sales managers say their biggest job challenge is lack of support from upper management, while 17% say their organizations lack sufficient resources.
  • Managers burn time on office work: One in three (34%) front line Sales managers feel they don’t have enough time to properly coach their teams. On average, while 19% of their time is spent on administrative tasks and meetings, only 12% is dedicated to coaching and training employees. 
  • Front line Sales managers want to invest in more training tools: Sales managers identified peer support and evaluation as their preferred coaching tool, followed by formal onboarding,  classroom training, shadowing, and virtual training.

To download the full study, visit

Not All Heroes Wear Capes: New Study Reveals Front Line Sales Managers Struggle To Lead increasingly Large, Remote Teams