You did it! You got that big promotion to sales manager that you’ve worked so hard for. After years working hard as a sales rep and bringing in big deals, you’ve finally made it to the next level. But how can you ensure that you’re successful in this new – and very different – position?
You already know that sales managers face very different challenges than sales reps, and sales management requires a different and particular set of skills. While you can use your expertise in sales to coach and guide your team, you also have to learn how to become an effective manager.
Here are a few things for newly-promoted sales managers to keep in mind, to help you adapt to and succeed in your new role.
1. Earn your Stripes
New sales managers are a little like substitute teachers entering a new classroom – your new reps won’t automatically respect you and will probably challenge your authority at first. It can be difficult to manage your former coworkers, especially if you were previously a peer who has been elevated to this new role. You have to set clear expectations and enforce the rules right away. Make sure your team’s goals are transparent and you work hard along with your reps, coming in early and staying late. You can earn their respect over time by showing that you are a strong leader and a knowledgeable sales expert.
2. Lead From Within
Becoming a manager doesn’t mean that you should shut yourself in an office and lead your team from afar. In fact it’s the opposite. Great managers still work in the trenches every day with their reps – working the same (if not more) hours and pushing towards the same goals. This means you should be listening in on calls, coaching reps through challenges, and setting up fun competitions to drive sales results to new heights. You’ll earn your team’s respect more quickly if you are the kind of manager that works with them, not against them.
3. Follow the Data
Great sales managers are hyper-aware of their team’s sales metrics and overall performance. You should track each rep’s win rates, conversion rates through each sales stage, average sale price, sales cycle, and much more. By keeping an eye on these numbers, you can find areas where each rep can improve. By using objective measurements of your team’s performance, it will also help you manage reps more easily. Offer strategic sales coaching based on these numbers, and you’ll see your team begin to improve.
4. Your Sales Reps Aren’t You
You became a successful rep by selling a certain way, but not everyone works in the same way that you did. There are many different personality types and selling methods that are highly effective for reps. As a manager, you have to resist the urge to create an army of mini-mes while hiring, training and coaching your team. What works for one rep may not work for another, and you have to understand that fact. Instead of trying to push every rep to copy your style, allow your team to grow and learn at their own pace. Encourage your team to experiment with new sales tactics to find what works best for them.
5. Be Agile
The greatest sales managers are agile leaders – you should be able to respond quickly to change in your market, on your sales team, or in the entire company. Inflexible sales leaders are unlikely to be successful since things change quickly and constantly on a sales team. While you may be used to managing your own changing sales pipeline, now you have to constantly adjust and monitor your entire team’s pipeline in order to hit your monthly and quarterly goals. If you don’t have enough sales reps to hit those goals, you need to hire more reps fast. If your sales are down, you need to analyze the data, find a reason for it, and make changes fast – or your entire team will founder. Agility is a mindset that you have to adopt as a manager.
Starting a new position as a manager can be both intimidating and exciting. But if you earn your team’s respect, track the right metrics, be flexible and lead your team from within, you will succeed in your new role.