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  • Writer's pictureKevin Snow

So You've Hired a New Sales Manager? 5 Things You Need to Teach Them Sooner Than Later

Sales managers are the key drivers for success in a sales organization. Sales managers are uniquely positioned to influence and empower sales reps to greater levels of success. But with that positioning they can just as quickly tear your successful team down and drive away your top performing reps. If your new sales manager is transitioning from a sales role if can be easy for them to become distracted from long term goals and focus on the new fire that needs to be put out, rather than prioritizing their activity.

Here are five things new sales mangers need to learn sooner rather than later if they want to accelerate their success in their new role.

1. Sales coaching is the most important part of your job. As a sales manager, the number one metric that you will be judged on is your ability to field and develop a successful sales team. Ideally a sales manager should spend 60% of their time in the field with their team conducting ride alongs. The most important aspect of this activity is the analysis and feedback that your sales team receives after the call. This feed back should happen within hours of the experience so it has the greatest impact on the individual sales person.

Effective sales coaching also needs to take into account sales metrics and KPIs. Tying your experiences from the field back to metrics will help your sales team understand how their specific activities are impacting their success.

2. Don't be a bull in a china shop. Just because you are the new boss doesn't mean that you should start making changes your first day. Making a lot of changes right off the bat will actually increase anxiety within your team and decrease morale.

Instead, the first few months should be made up of a lot more listening than talking. You need to learn as much as you can about your new company, who their customers are, and who is on your team. Ask lots of questions get to know your surroundings. In order to be great at anything, you really need to have an understanding of it first.

When you are ready to start instigating change, do it in small bursts, observe the results and refine your processes until you get the results you want. As a sales manager you need to be a master of change and help your team navigate change instigated by you and the chaos of change that sales and marketing is.

3. Set the cadence and culture for your team. When you become the sales manager you will drive the environment that your team operates in. The problem is that many new sales managers do not have a clear understanding of what a successful team culture looks like. Do you have an open floor plan with music or cubicles with silence? Are team meetings collaborative in nature or directive?

A poor culture doesn't just make going to work unpleasant it can actually hurt your sales numbers. A successful sales culture doesn’t come from simply increasing goals and driving your sales team to hit the mark. It comes from creating an environment that establishes an energetic environment, promotes teamwork, development and celebrates success.

4. Hiring new sales people is really hard. More than likely if you are taking over an existing team you are going to have open positions that you need to fill in order to make your goal. Mediocre sales people are A-players when it comes to selling themselves. Most sales candidates are adept at talking about themselves and the act of selling. When evaluating potential sales talent, focus your fact finding on the job environments the candidate worked in and their sales activity in previous positions. Success comes easily in an ideal environment but if you find a candidate that excels in a sub-par sales environment there is a higher potential that the candidate will acclimate to your company's environment.

Great sales people know their numbers in detail and can discuss their metrics with you. How many calls did the candidate make to get an appointment? How many marketing qualified leads were they provided. Understanding their metrics and how they achieved them will give you a good insight into their previous success and if they can replicate that success on your team.

5. Firing sales people is even harder. You’ll quickly discover that firing someone can be your most difficult responsibility. The first time you let someone go can be intimidating, and it usually doesn’t get much easier because it hopefully won’t happen very often. And it is normally more stressful for the person doing the firing that for the person getting fired. Firing a member of your team can have impacts on the rest of the team that don't go away overnight and impact performance. Before firing a sales person you need to be sure that you have given them the time, tools, training and the technology that they need to succeed.

Being a good sales manager isn't just about being able to sell well; it requires great business sense, tactical planning and excellent leadership skills. Once a new sales manager understands how to lead their team and not just manage activity they will be better positioned to provide personal development for the team, happier customers and excellent long-term benefits for the company.

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