New sales manager – don’t lose a chance to make a difference

Transitioning from a sales rep to a sales manager

Sales rep to sales manager transition

Congratulations! You were a top sales person.  You’ve just been promoted to sales manager – you have a team of 12 sales reps. The good news is you now have the pivotal job for improving the sales effectiveness of your organization.   The bad news is – there are lot of perils and pitfalls lurking in the shadows.

Let’s take a look at some of the best practices to make the start of the sales management journey 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 is a big deal.  If you can provide your sales team more time working with customers, not on “paperwork,” you can make a big difference quick.
  • 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 the “super-salesperson.”  Selling is what your sales team does; you need to manage – it is more than a full time job.  Don’t take over those old accounts – help transition them to your sales rep.  Go on sales calls only when a management perspective is needed and help build the credibility of your sales rep.

  • Be careful with off-the-cuff comments. As a sales manager off-the-cuff comments have 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.
  • Remember now 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.

Being a sales manager is a challenging job and high expectations come quickly.  So invest the time to get the right start.

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©2013 Sales Horizons, LLC

About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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