Congratulations! You were a top salesperson. Now, you’re a newly appointed sales manager. The good news is you have the pivotal job for improving the sales effectiveness of your organization. The bad news – many perils and pitfalls are lurking in the shadows.
Let’s take a look at 7 best practices for making the transition from sales rep to sales manager a little bit easier.
- Don’t assume what worked for you will work for your sales team. An important first step is to develop an understanding of the performance profile of your sales team. Coaching them to be better at what they do is more about their strengths and weakness then it is about what you do well.
- Protect your team from “administrivia.” Be a filter, not a funnel for your sales team. Although this is particularly tough when you are a new sales manager, it’s a big deal. If you can provide your sales team more time working with customers not on “paperwork” you can make a big difference quickly.
- Remember, you are now a sales manager. One of the most frequent comments we hear from sales reps about new sales managers is they adopt the role of super-salesperson. Selling is what your sales team does; you need to manage your sales team – it is more than a full time job. Don’t hold on to your old accounts – transition them to your sales reps. From a selling perspective, go on sales calls only when a management presence is needed and when you can help build the credibility of your sales reps. Or, go on sales calls when the purpose is sales coaching. And speaking of sales coaching, try to maximize coaching time.
- Be careful with off-the-cuff comments. As a sales manager off-the-cuff comments have a different impact than when you make them as a sales rep. You are now part of management and what you say takes on added weight and importance.
- It is more about strategy than tactics. As a sales rep, you knew “everything” about your accounts. As a sales manager, you’ll be working with your sales team on accounts where you won’t know “everything.” As a sales manager you need to leverage your experience, ask the right questions, and help them anticipate the unexpected and to assess the alternatives and options. It’s about strategy.
- Don’t forget motivation is now part of the job. When you were a sales rep, motivation was primarily about knowing yourself – that is no longer the case. You need to know the art and science of motivation – are there age cohort and gender differences, what is the role of nonfinancial rewards, how do you motivate the high performer versus the underachiever? Fortunately this is all written down and there are others you can go to for help.
- Understand and leverage institutional resources. In complex B2B sales the sales team cannot do it alone – they need to leverage other institutional resources. Your job is to develop the relationships and political awareness to make that happen.
- Become an advocate for personal development. Today, sales reps need to know more at a higher level of proficiency than ever before. That can’t happen without a serious commitment and investment by the leadership in training and development. Sales managers need to help define what that training looks like and be an advocate for making it happen.
Being a sales manager is a challenging job with high expectations. So invest the time to get the right start.
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©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC