I have seen hundreds of entrepreneurs attempting to manage their sales teams, first time sales managers thinking they knew the job and organizations under achieving their opportunities and missing their objectives. So what can a first time sales manager to do?
I had only been selling maybe 8 years with two different companies and had experienced four or five sales managers and as you can imagine-all with a variety of styles, patience and skill level. I can remember…those first 6 months as a new sales manager was a challenge! I had taken over from two previous sales managers who were now reporting to me and three other salespeople for a total of five on my team.
Obviously I had participated in various sales training programs and I had a few perceptions of what a sales manager should do, but obviously I was scrambling and at the same time trying achieve sales objectives. Luckily I received some assistance.
The president of the company I was working for gave me advice, but he also sent me to Boston to spend two days with “the best sales manager” in the US according to my boss. I spent time listening to Dave and understanding his approach and systems and then flew back to Minneapolis.
As time went by, I made mistakes, learned lessons, faced tough circumstances from firing, recessions, leadership vs management topics and actually did some things correct. Amazingly 7 years after meeting Dave, I ended up working for him as a VP of Sales running a North American sales operation.
The next eight years I spent working at a street level and a corporate level fine tuning sales leadership and management challenges. I have seen hundreds of entrepreneurs attempting to manage their sales teams, first time sales managers thinking they knew the job and organizations under achieving their opportunities and missing their objectives. So what can a first time sales manager to do? In my newsletter: Why Sales Managers Succeed! and in this blog, I attempt to provide insights for everyone.
In a blog I can only give a few tips, but over the next few weeks I will continue to provide more insights and tips for the first time sales manager. To be open, my new book is also about to be published on the topic as well and is titled: Slammed!!! For the First Time Sales Manager. Readers of this blog will gain insights; idea’s and tips from that book and my experience as well. All Free.
There are four Sections in the book and 57 chapters, be prepared for a ton of content and idea’s that have faced me over the 20+ years of sales leadership challenges. The four major sections are:
Personal Leadership and Growth Development
Executive Leadership and Strategy
Creating and Maintaining a High Performance Culture
Sales Leadership: a Year Round Job
The reason I have 57 chapters is the first issue facing new sales leaders is Time Management. Quickly they are faced with the needs of the sales/marketing function and directing their teams. Next they need to work with their fellow peers on the management team and the third element the demands of senior management that are requiring information and accountability. Each chapter is designed to provide a quick insight into certain issues facing the first time sales manager.
Hints on Time Management:
Protect Your Time and your To-Do List; don’t take every problem your sales team gives you and put it on your own To-Do list. Listen to the issues, ask them for their 3 idea’s to resolve their issues, and then suggest to them to perform the best activity that will resolve it. If your to-do list expands beyond the capability to even react, then your team will lose respect and stop accepting your coaching.
If you are meeting one on one on a regular basis do so early or late in the day.
Start your sales meetings early in the morning-that means 8:30am at the latest. (one on one’s can start at 7:30am)
Make a certain number of sales calls with each team member every month, this will help you understand the salesperson skill level more accurately.
Plan your sales training meetings for the entire quarter before the quarter begins. Train on sales skills, product/service knowledge and sales operations.
The first time sales manager faces many day to day and quarter to quarter challenges; our job-all of our jobs is to help everyone become successful. Let me hear your thoughts on the lessons you have learned by commenting below. Cooperate, Share and Succeed, a great theme as we explore critical topics during the next few weeks.
About the author
Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the…