Congratulations! You have been promoted to sales manager. Going from a top performing sales person to a manager seems like it will be an easy transition, right? Wrong. The traits that make all-star salespeople usually don’t directly translate to the skills needed to be an effective sales manager. Becoming a sales leader, while exciting, comes with many challenges. Coaching, recruiting, and dealing with the stress that comes with a whole team are just a few. What may have been effective for your sales process won’t necessarily work for your whole team so it’s time to shift gears.


We briefly talked with three sales leaders about what they do to be successful and their advice to new sales leaders. Before we get into what they have to say – let’s introduce them!

Joy Spellman is a Field Sales Development Manager at Hewlett-Packard where she has worked since 2012. She started as an Inside Sales Account Manager, moving on to the Inside Sales District Manager before she got to where she is today.

Dan Miller-Smith is the Vice President of Sales at Procore TechnologiesDan has been with Procore for over four years where he started as a Business Development Manager in 2014. Dan then moved up to Senior Manager of Business development, followed by Director of Sales Development, Director of Sales, and then to where he is today.

Steve Molen is the Senior Vice President of Sales at Viewpoint Construction Software. He has been with Viewpoint since 2017 and has worked in the world of sales since 2001 where he started his career as a Director of Business Development.

1. What do you most attribute your success to?

Joy – As a Top Sales leader, the thing that I most attribute to myself is the ability to help others grow and develop and see/achieve their full potential.

Dan – Hiring great people and getting out of their way.

Steve – Hard work, having great energy & attitude and being in a cycle of constant learning.  While not the biggest risk taker, I have never been afraid to fail, and feel that constant learning built my confidence to be ready for the next step of the life journey, regardless of where it would take me.

2. Is there anything that you do regularly to be successful?

Joy – Set short term and long term goals, attend multiple networking events to discuss with leaders that have various backgrounds to learn from and take time for myself such as workout/ meditation- ( with being successful you have to work extremely hard so taking personal time keeps you grounded)

Dan – Get out in the field as often as feasible. The best insights and ideas come from our clients and sellers on the front lines.

Steve – Establish and stick to daily, weekly, monthly, 1 year and 5-year goals.  I find that when I “start with the end in mind” to quote Jim Collins, I can overcome obstacles and keep focused on the journey.  By setting my vision toward the goal, whether short or long term, it helps overcome any setbacks that happen along the way.

3. If you could give one piece of advice to hopeful salespeople, what would it be?

Joy –  Never be afraid of failure, always be open to change, and seek multiple mentors

Dan – Develop a deep empathy for your clients. If you invest in truly understanding how their business makes and loses money, you have the opportunity to build a partnership, not just win a deal.  

Steve – Be curious.  I find that so many sellers want to cut to the chase and end up focusing on their own personal goals and objectives for meetings as well as the overall sales cycle, vs really getting to know the prospect’s vision.  I really like the expression, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Asking good, tough challenger questions requires a strong combination of depth of knowledge, and curiosity, along with a willingness to keep asking questions to get to the core goal, objection, value, etc..

4. What is the best career advice you have ever gotten?

Joy – Not everyone you work with will like you, but having the respect and leadership to drive results and build a winning team will take you far as a sales leader.

Dan – To assume positive intent with everyone around you.

Steve – Hope is not a strategy.  When I was young in my career I was often challenged with explaining why I felt I would win, or why a deal was in commit or best case.  One leader would push back heavily on simple questions about the timing of the deal, or the buying process. What I realized was, often I wanted to feel good about my pipeline (hope), so I would not ask the tough question, or get to the root answer that I needed to increase confidence.

With that, we invite you to go forth and embrace your new position and all of its challenges. Use this time to reflect on what has made you successful in the past and how that can help you moving forward. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one giving the advice one day!

Are you looking for more ways to improve your sales management skills? Download our eBook on Sales Coaching Best Practices!

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