First of all, congratulations!
Whether you’ve recently been promoted or are tackling the role at a totally new company, reaching sales manager status is no small feat.
And if you’re equal parts excited and anxious about becoming a new sales manager, we get it.
After all, the role comes with a serious set of challenges that you’ll be expected to tackle head-on.
Perhaps you’re not 100% sure how to approach your new responsibilities. Maybe you’re second-guessing your abilities as a leader.
Either way, winning as a new sales manager doesn’t have to be a trial-by-fire.
We’ve been around the block enough to know what makes a winning sales manager and how to avoid the role’s most common roadblocks. With the help of this guide, you’ll know exactly what you need to be successful from day one.
1. Form a tight bond with your reps ASAP
Motivating your team is one of your top priorities as a new sales manager.
In other words, your reps need to see you as a leader.
Many new managers think that being a strong leader is about finding the perfect balance between being feared and loved.
The reality, though? The first step to leading your team is getting to know them as individuals.
Just as the Relationship Era defines companies and their customers, sales managers benefit massively from understanding their reps on a personal level.
Here’s some food for thought: over half of U.S. workers aren’t engaged at work. This lack of engagement correlates directly with lost productivity, low morale and high turnover. A strong sense of unity and purpose among your team from the start can help nip these problems in the bud.
Spending one-on-one time with your reps during your initial time as a new sales manager is essential:
- Ask questions.
- Make small talk.
- Be human.
Doing so will help you understand each rep’s strengths, goals and motivations. Likewise, your reps will be more likely to see you as someone they actually want to work for.
2. Study your organization’s sales process
Improving your company’s sales over time is an expectation for any new sales manager.
Unsurprisingly, this pressure to boost sales oftentimes results in analysis paralysis.
You obviously don’t want to rock the boat too much or try to fix what isn’t broken. On the flip side, you don’t want to sit on your hands when you could be making moves.
Every company has a learning curve when it comes to their specific sales process. Before you can determine what’s working and what isn’t, you need to spend some time crunching the numbers.
Consider how your CRM data can clue you in on your company’s sales process at a glance. For example, Copper is capable of answering questions like:
- What is the average deal size for your company?
- How long does it typically take to close a deal?
- What are your company’s most valuable sales activities?
- How is each stage of your pipeline performing?
- How many deals do your reps close per month, quarter, etc?
In Copper for example, you can see reports showing sales and win rates for each team member.
These data points can lead you to bottlenecks or new opportunities, empowering you to take action sooner rather than later.
This also makes tasks such as sales forecasting and setting sales quotas feel like much less of a guessing game.
Hire the best.
Every good sales manager needs to know how to hire the best. Learn how to do it with this sales recruiting guide.
3. Provide multiple channels of feedback for your reps
According to OfficeVibe’s recent State of Employee Engagement report, communication is key to a top-performing team.
Specifically, there’s a need for consistent, quality feedback between managers and their employees.
The data found that approximately one-third of employees feel as if their managers aren’t communicating with them enough. On a related note, 63% of employees feel that they don’t receive adequate recognition or praise from their managers.
Your reps should never feel like they’re in the dark regarding their performance (negative or positive). In Copper, you can easily track sales performance for individual reps to see who might be exceeding expectations and who might need some additional support:
This information can be conveyed to your reps via one-on-one meetings, email or within your CRM itself. Frequent feedback creates a much-needed sense of accountability among your reps as they own their own data.
Effective feedback is a two-way street, though. Not only should you regularly provide feedback to your reps, but your reps should also feel comfortable speaking their minds as well.
Beyond face-to-face meetings and email, tools such as anonymous employee engagement surveys allow for quick, unfiltered feedback from your reps who might feel wary about speaking their minds in-person:
Again, part of being a new sales manager is playing the role of motivator. Opening up the channels of communication results in a more engaged team that knows where they stand performance-wise. Meanwhile, being a good listener through collecting feedback signals that you support your team.
4. Master the art of the sales meeting
Beyond motivating your reps as individuals, managers need to be able to convey the big picture goals of their organizations.
That’s exactly what your regular sales meetings are for.
Running a sales meeting that isn’t just a waste of time requires some practice: don’t feel pressured to nail yours the first time around. That said, here are some tips for making your meetings run smoothly:
- Set a specific, time-sensitive agenda to keep your meetings short and sweet
- Establish expectations and etiquette in terms of asking questions and respecting your team’s time
- Engage attendees through call-outs, questions and roleplay scenarios to keep from boring them to death
One of the biggest benefits of being a new sales manager is that you can call the shots in terms of how your meetings are run.
Want to tweak the frequency of your get-togethers?
Looking for more opportunities for your reps to interact?
It’s all up to you.
Just remember that sales meetings represent a prime opportunity to make sure everybody’s on the same page and reinforce your team’s goals.
5. Figure out what you want in your future sales reps
Bear in mind that building your ideal sales team is an ongoing process.
Reality check: the team that you have today will more than likely not be the same team you have a few months or a year from now. Turnover in sales is inevitable and should be expected.
So you’re not only responsible for shaping the sales team you currently have, but also figuring out what you want in the new blood that your company brings on.
Much like running your first sales meeting, you won’t truly know what it’s like to hire your first rep until you’re sitting across from them during the interview. That’s not to say that you can’t start thinking about what you want to look for as you build your sales team, though.
For example, some questions and qualities you might want to look for include:
- How coachable someone is based on their background and past experience
- Whether or not someone displays curiosity, enthusiasm and empathy
- Whether or not someone seems capable of managing themselves
Having these pointers in the back of your mind will make it much easier to find the right fit for your company when the time comes.
And speaking of “when the time comes,” yes, there may come the fateful day where one of your reps calls it quits or otherwise needs to be let go. This is easily one of the more stressful aspects of being a new sales manager but comes with the territory of the role.
However, this again speaks to the importance of communication and giving a greater sense of accountability. When someone’s performance (or lack thereof) is well-documented via CRM, the decision or necessity to let them go is much less personal.
6. Lead by example
If you’re concerned about whether or not your reps will see you as a genuine leader, arguably the best thing you can do is get in the trenches with them.
Pick up the phone. Pitch some prospects. Show ‘em how it’s done.
Managers should display mastery of the same sales activities their reps are performing day-in, day-out. This helps reinforce the same positive behaviors you want to see from your team while also proving how you earned your role.
Don’t forget that you were hired or promoted as a new sales manager for a reason. Your prior knowledge and skills are invaluable to your team, especially new reps or those who might be struggling. This is why your expertise is so important when onboarding new reps or conducting sales prospecting training.
If nothing else, conducting sales activities alongside your reps can help you better understand what they’re facing firsthand. This could ultimately lead to changes in your organization’s sales process or your team’s work environment. Until you get behind the driver’s seat yourself, you’ll never know.
Ready to make it as a new sales manager?
No matter where you’ve landed as a new sales manager, it’s going to take some time to ease into the role.
Because there’s so much knowledge to absorb as you learn the ropes of your company. But with these expectations fresh in your mind, you can make the transition go so much more smoothly.
So get to know your team. See their process in action. Then, see how you can improve it together.
Oh, and don’t forget how Copper can help manage your new sales team and encourage their growth alongside your own.