Whether you’re transitioning from a different company or different role, it’s crucial that you adopt your new position with care. Sounds obvious, right? Still worth saying. After all, a staggering 82 percent of sales managers are ineffective at their roles.
Here are a few pieces of advice to help you succeed as a modern sales leader:
4 Best Practices for New Sales Managers
1. Find your main thing.
One of the biggest mistakes that new sales leaders make is focus on too many things. It’s important to have one big rock — an important, overall goal — to focus on. This is the one thing you will rally your team around. It’s the metric to drive performance that you’re going to emphasize.
Maybe your focus is on selling activities (like prospecting or qualifying leads). Or it could be conversations (demos, VP-level meetings, etc.). Whatever you decide, make sure to keep your focus there. You can have subgoals, but they should all roll into that key priority.
2. Observe and listen.
During the first 30 days of your new role, do the best you can to observe and listen.
Go around to your team and talk to them. Ask questions. What do they like about their role? What do they feel could be better? What do they want to learn that their peers know?
Be inquisitive, but don’t make any judgements. Once you’ve put all of this information together, trust your instincts and develop an operation plan. This communicates to your team that you’ll listen to them, but will also take charge as their leader.
3. Earn some wins.
If you’re like most sales managers, you’ve been promoted from a front-line sales role, which means you’re going to miss taking hold of deals and leading them on your own. That probably will make this tip your favorite.
A key to your first months as a new sales leader is to try to find some wins. Don’t be afraid to get in the middle of some deals at the beginning. It’ll help you feel like you’ve made some direct, bottom-line impact, as well as give you an opportunity to work with the team. It’ll also get you in the middle of the actual sales process with your reps and show them that they can pull you in when they need to.
Don’t do this on every deal, though (since you still need to be observing and listening). Pick a key few and get very involved in them, almost like you become the salesperson and lead it. Your reps will watch how you operate.
As you do earn those wins, make sure to give your sales reps credit for the deal.
4. Run effective sales coaching sessions.
These meetings are critical. You should have one-on-one meetings with your sales reps at least every other week, but ideally weekly. Having them on the same day each week is a best practice, but is not vital.
Your sales team should know that they are expected to come to the meeting with topics to cover. And you, as the manager, should come to the meeting with agenda items to review.
Come prepared with KPIs to manage around. Make sure you’re talking through multiple metrics so you know how to coach someone the right way.
Check out our tool for managing one-on-ones: