What should new sales managers focus on?
In this blog post, we’ll discuss a couple of sales manager tips to help you build and lead your sales team, as well as, support them on the way to success.
Sales managers guide sales teams to success.
Meeting that goal, though, requires the right combination of skills and drive. The best sales managers are great with people and provide sales coaching without being overbearing or parental to the teams they manage.
New sales management job? Congrats–now consider how these tips apply to your new role and evolve as a manager.
- Apply “Out with the Old, In with the New” Approach to your Job Responsibilities
- Find a Mentor
- Mind Your Metrics
- See Your Team’s Motivations and Guide Them If Necessary
- Follow Your Gut, but Don’t Ignore Your Team, Either
- Have Regular 1:1 Meetings With Your Reps
- A sales manager should apply these tips to drive performance
Apply “Out with the Old, In with the New” Approach to your Job Responsibilities
If you’re freshly promoted, you might still be in ‘salesperson mode’ holding on to the responsibilities and obligations of your previous job. With any new promotion, it’s important to let go and focus on the new mindset and work that comes with your new title.
- Delegate: As a manager, you now have a team you can delegate to. Find out who you can trust with what and go from there.
- Don’t micromanage: Your old responsibilities that are no longer part of your job description are now probably part of a direct report’s job. Don’t keep them from their work by snagging it back.
- New mindset: This also means you’ll have to stop thinking like a salesperson and start thinking like a sales manager. This doesn’t mean becoming out-of-touch or distant, but it does mean taking your whole team into consideration in everything you do.
If you’re now leading a group you used to be a member of, be careful and make sure old habits you don’t want to bring with you don’t hitch a ride into your new job.
Find a Mentor
Promotion to a sales management position means you’re an awesome salesperson.
However, you’re in the big leagues now, and your role and responsibilities have changed, as previously mentioned. You’re still a rock star sales expert, but your new position requires another set of skills – managerial and leadership ones.
According to Harvard Business Review, one of the main reasons new sales managers fail is due to lack of training and mentoring. The truth is that you need a more seasoned sales manager to show you the ropes and help you find your feet in your new role.
If there’s no official mentoring program or onboarding in your organization, be proactive and ask your more experienced colleagues to help you polish your skills in the following areas:
- Business planning
- Talent acquisition and development
- Sales tracking
- Performance management
- Negotiating and contracting
Shadowing is a very effective training strategy, and you can pick up different tricks if you spend a couple of days with different sales managers.
Mind Your Metrics
When you’re in charge of an area, group, or department, your metrics are arguably more important than ever.
Keeping track of your real-time sales insights and knowing your trends enables you to see how you’re doing and make strategic changes whenever necessary.
- Sales metrics vs. KPIs: Although these two terms are frequently used interchangeably, they actually do have different meanings. Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure a vital business goal or priority. For instance, the cost of acquisition (CAC) with winning new customers for the organization.
- Metric priorities: Similarly, not every metric has equal importance for your sales team, and not every metric reflects the entire company’s performance. Some metrics focus on individual member performance, for example, while others are reflective of how the entire group is doing.
All metrics are arguably important to sales, but it’s up to you and your team to figure out how these metrics will influence your decisions and planning.
See Your Team’s Motivations and Guide Them If Necessary
It’s no longer just your sales performance you’ll be thinking about. You know your own motivations and how they drive you, but how about what motivates your team? Managing your sales team means considering how your direct reports are motivated–and how they’re wired as professionals.
- Discourage a “loner” mentality: Good salespeople don’t go it alone. Friendly competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sales reps should remember they’re all ultimately contributing to the same end goals. Find ways to foster teamwork.
- Use the right incentives: Look carefully at the incentives salespeople have for meeting targets and make sure they’re rewarding the right things.
Managing a high-performance team is completely different from being one salesperson with your own targets, goals, and concerns to think about. That said, it can be done with the right approach.
Follow Your Gut, but Don’t Ignore Your Team, Either
As you lead a team, use your experience and insight from your sales career to provide inspiration and guidance. Don’t be afraid to listen to what your team has to say. In fact, you’re better off staying in close communication with the group and giving them ample opportunity to share their voice.
- Help your team engage with your goals: Great managers inspire their teams to care about the organization’s goals. Unfortunately, 70 percent of US employees don’t feel very engaged with the work they do. Employees who aren’t meaningfully connected to their work aren’t as productive and can even cost their companies more in terms of revenue and missed opportunities.
- Be the best manager: Sadly, of the people who leave their jobs, 75 percent do so because of their boss. As a sales manager, it’s your responsibility to do what you can to support your team’s engagement and connection with your organization’s mission. Don’t make people quit. Give them reasons to stay.
Becoming a great sales manager doesn’t always happen immediately. But it is well worth the effort to invest in your own leadership development and work hard to be a better manager of people.
Have Regular 1:1 Meetings With Your Reps
One of your first tasks as a new sales manager should be to schedule regular, weekly 1:1 meetings with your salespeople. These meetings are essential for improving your team’s sales performance and culture.
Use these individual meetings to talk to your reps about their plans, goals, ideas, and obstacles.
As a sales manager, it’s your job to facilitate the sales process, but in this case, you won’t be helping your customers but your sales team.
To understand each team member’s challenges, you need to hear their feedback in a face-to-face discussion. Don’t expect people to be willing to share their issues in front of others.
This approach can be a great opportunity to connect with your team members on a more personal level and earn their trust and loyalty. As a result, they will be more willing to share their potential pipeline issues and problems they encounter.
Another benefit of 1:1 meetings is that you’ll get to know your team better and identify their unique strengths and weaknesses. Based on this, you’ll figure out what makes each of your team members tick and personalize your motivational efforts.
Use the first of these meetings to address the shift in your relationship with your former co-workers. All of a sudden, you’re no longer peers – you’re their superior, and it’s crucial to establish some rules so that you can maintain a successful and healthy professional relationship. Ask them how they feel about your promotion and what they think would be the best way to continue working side by side effectively. And if there were some previous misunderstandings and conflicts, resolve them and move on.
A sales manager should apply these tips to drive performance
To get better at your job, it’s important to always be working towards self-improvement. Stay humble and eager to learn from your team even as they learn from you. Remember, too, that many of yesterday’s leadership fundamentals are still valid today and have something to teach today’s sales managers.
Do you have other sales manager tips for the newly promoted? Share them in the comments.