5 Tips for New Sales Managers
Congratulations, you are now a sales manager. First, be proud of your accomplishment! Earning the title of sales manager is an important step in your sales career, regardless of the size of your sales team. There is plenty that new sales managers need to learn on their journey to become a sales leader. In this article, we will provide five of the important tips for you to help you on your sales leadership journey.
Journey to Sales Management
Whether it was due to performing at a high level as a sales rep or being the senior sales rep with your organization, the climb up the sales ranks does not come without dedication and a strong work ethic. Being a sales manager is not just a new title. It includes new responsibilities. Today’s professional sales manager comes with a series of new responsibilities. From being accountable for several business-critical functions, like revenue and profitability to the performance of individual sales team members, the education of a sales manager does not stop once they receive the title of sales manager. In fact, it is just the beginning. With continuing education in mind, here are five tips a newly minted sales manager can apply to improve sales outcomes.
Build Trust and Trust Others
Building trust within your sales reports in your sales organization is step one. The foundation of trust for new sales managers starts with the ability to properly train the personnel under your leadership. No matter your experience or expertise, sales reps with not come to you seeking advice or improvement if they do not trust you. Building trust as a new sales manager takes time and effort.
The best way for a new sales manager to build trust is to be consistent. Alternatively, the best way to destroy trust is to be inconsistent. This includes not only what you say, but also what you do. The cliched walk the talk and do what you say you are going to do, rings true for new sales managers. If you’ve ever worked with a sales manager who tells you one thing and then either does not do it or does something totally different, you know how it made you feel. That is the exact feeling you need to prevent at all costs as a new sales manager.
The hidden component of gaining trust it that you must also be willing to trust others. Trust is reciprocal. The more you trust others, the more others will trust you. Trust requires one party to take the initial risk and as the new sales manager, that first step is on you. This means, when one of your team members tells you something, you believe them. You take their side and don’t send them under the bus in front of other team members or prospects. When your sales team sees that they can trust you, they will have confidence to go into the market and make it happen. Alternatively, if they feel you don’t have their back, they will be constantly holding back, looking over their shoulder and feeling like they are walking on eggshells. Eggshells and high performance do not go together. Therefore, step one as the new sales manager is to establish trust with your sales reports.
Sales Management is About Continuous Learning
As a new sales manager, now is not the time to forget the sales basics. You always want to look for ways to expand your skill set so you can properly train your reports on sales competencies and specific sales skills. Acquiring new sales skills will build your confidence, which will help garner the trust you seek among the sales team. As the new sales manager, remind yourself that the skills that got you here won’t be enough to get you where you want to go.
If there is one distinguishing feature among great sales managers, it is that they have a desire to learn. The best sales managers understand there is always more to learn, and they take it upon themselves to learn. If selling is your career and you have plans of becoming a VP of Sales, then you must make learning a lifelong endeavor.
Don’t Forget Your Sales Roots
It is important to never forget where you came from once you are promoted to sales manager. In fact, many of the sales lessons I learned as a new sales manager were lessons learned from bad sales managers in my past and what not to do. One of the biggest mistakes many new sales managers make (and even senior sales leaders), is forgetting that they were once junior sales reps themselves. Don’t let your new title go to your head.
Always remember that before you were a “Sales Manager,” you were a “Sales Rep.” This will not only help you stay humble, but it will make you more relatable if you share your sales experiences of being a sales rep when talking to your sales reps. There’s nothing worse than a new sales manager strolling into the office with a big ego and chip on his shoulder. The new sheriff in town attitude and barking orders about “my way or the highway” is so 1990. Modern sales managers are humble servants, not ego-driven autocrats.
Learn From Mistakes
Just because you are now the new sales manager, does not mean you are immune from mistakes. In fact, you will probably make more mistakes now as a sales manager than you did as a sales rep because you are in a position of leadership. The pressure that comes with the new sales management position, along with new responsibilities, will cause you to make mistakes. Mistakes are good if you learn from them. But blaming others or making excuses will only hinder your growth.
Learn from all your mistakes to ensure you don’t make them again. It is a never-ending journey of personal discovery and growth. As a sales manager, the dumbest mistakes you can make are the mistakes you repeat. We’ve all heard the definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Be sure not to be an insane sales manager and repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Instead, when you make a mistake, learn from them and create coaching opportunities.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is key to becoming a successful leader regardless of the career path or industry. However, this is especially true in sales. For sales managers, it is vital to instill confidence into those in which they serve.
As sales manager, you are often the first in the chain of command to interpret and understand feedback from the marketplace. This means, sales managers need to be able to effectively communicate not only with their subordinates, but also with senior leadership, marketing, and customer support. Sales managers need to be able to communicate accurate and concisely, and without ambiguity. This is a skill that must be practiced to achieve proficiency.
If you’ve ever been in a meeting where someone talks and talks without getting to the point, you know how frustrating it can be. You just want to tell them to “Get to the point.” As a new sales manager, you need properly form your thoughts before they speak. The new authority does not mean it’s open mic night at the Apollo. The saying, “This meeting could have been an email,” is not something you want to hear as a new sales manager. The best way to accomplish this is to remind all participants at the start of every meeting to think clearly before they speak. This simple tip will put everyone on notice, including yourself, that brevity is valued.
Being an effective communicator as a sales manager will take time and effort. As sales reps, we all think we are master communicators, but there is room for improvement. Improvement will not be easy, and it might take longer than you think to master. There are many great sales reps that struggled as sales managers because they failed to improve their communication skills. Having the ability to communicate with brevity will help you solve problems and build trust with your entire organization.
Sales management is about leadership and leadership is about inspiring people to reach their potential. For first-time sales managers, it’s all about learning. Here is something that should not be a surprise to any of us: There are no perfect sales managers, only those who are consistently improving and those who are not. Sales management is not a “one size fits all” model. This is especially true when it comes to new sales managers.
Life-long learning and learning from your mistakes are important to help you develop your skills and sales leadership traits. Embrace the challenge. Continue working on your management and communication skills. Self-improvement will not only help you on an individual level, but it can help improve your entire organization.
As a new sales manager, these five tips are just the tip of the iceberg on your journey through your sales career. These tips will serve as a reminder as you embark on the next phase of your sales career. As your sales career grows and you wonder if you are ready for sales management, just remember these simple tips and do the best that you can do every day.
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