Accepting a sales management position with a new company can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. On a positive note, you’re excited you found the right position with a great company. On the flip side there’s going to be some obstacles that come along with it. In this post, I’m going to share 4 sales management tips that will steer you to success in your new role.
Facing The Double Edged Sword of a New Sales Management Role
You’ve come so far. You negotiated compensation (Of course you did… you’re in sales, for crying out loud). You made it through the resignation process. You’re hype to get started in your new role. Now what?
You’re probably going from being one of the most knowledgeable sales professionals at your past company to the “new kid on the block.”
On top of that, you’re inheriting a team built by your predecessor. While you have the skills and experience that got you the job in the first place, the reality is you’re walking into a new company, new product, and new team.
If that wasn’t enough, I’m guessing that moving companies isn’t something you’ve done recently.
According to Deloitte, even millennials who are known for job hopping have an average tenure of three years.
Chances are, that’s how long it’s been since you’ve last done this, if at all.
Except, this isn’t like riding a bicycle. You don’t magically have muscle memory for how to do something that you’ve maybe done once or twice before.
Ideally, you’d just Google it to get a refresh, right? Not quite.
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of credible information out there for best practices when starting a new sales management position.
I’m betting there also isn’t a section titled “How to become a solution expert, win over your team and build cross-functional relationships” in the new hire on-boarding.
Fear not! I was recently in your shoes. As I on-boarded in my last role, I took notes of what helped me ramp quickly in the hope that someone else could benefit from my experience.
With that said, here are my top 4 sales management tips to help you succeed in your new role:
#1 – Make It A Priority To Connect With Your Direct Reports
As nervous as you are about starting your new sales manager job, your new team is just as nervous. They are anxiously waiting to see what you’ll be like.
Here’s what your new sales team is probably wondering:
- How much you’ll change things.
- How well you’ll get along.
- If you’ll be able to effectively coach and develop them.
One of the key things you can do in the first one or two weeks to quash these fears and questions is to schedule a “Getting to Know You” one on one meeting with each direct report.
Whether they are managers or individual contributors, this is a critical part of establishing the relationship foundation.
Block an hour with them (ideally go to a coffee shop or more casual setting) and send them the questions ahead of time you want to discuss.
Questions to ask your sales team during your first 1 to 1:
Don’t be afraid to break the ice and go first! Share a little about your background, why you’re excited to be at the company, and why you’re passionate about sales management.
If you have a team of managers and no individual contributor direct reports, I’d recommend picking a handful of IC leaders to sit down with.
They have a wealth of knowledge and significant influence over their peers, so winning them over will help you succeed with the team.
#2 – Establish Contacts With Key Departments
Building a working relationship isn’t isolated to just your direct reports. Make sure to meet with your peer equivalent in every department that is engaged with the sales organization.
5 Teams you should definitely meet with:
- Sales Operations
- Customer success
Take time to understand how they interact with the sales team. Learn their key initiatives for the quarter and year. Discover and establish a regular meeting rhythm or feedback loop between their department and sales.
A great sales book to read for more on a building a high functioning team is “Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”
Recommended Read: 23 Legendary Must-Reads For All Salespeople
#3 – Get To Know Your Prospects And How Your Team Sells
As a brand new sales manager, seeing the end result isn’t enough. You want to know what your top and bottom performers are doing to create their results.
Historically, the only way to do this would be to do call listening session or shadow a demo. Although this could help, it is less than ideal because reps tend to be more nervous, and you are dependent on luck if the prospect gives objections, ask common questions, and is the right fit.
For SDRs, you have no way to guarantee that anyone will answer. There is nothing more frustrating than setting aside time or rearranging meetings for these type of things and then have it be unproductive.
Fortunately there is amazing technology today that makes life so much easier for sales managers. SalesLoft is great technology for enabling your reps and ensuring they follow the sales process.
It also records every call made so I didn’t have to shadow a rep. I can easily find the ones I want to listen to based on sentiment by running a report for a specific timeline and/or rep.
This is a snapshot of the report in SalesLoft to easily pick the calls
For the AEs, rather than sit in on hour long demos that may or may not yield value, I use Chorus.ai to give me the same high level overview to know which demos to listen to and where in the hour I should focus.
Within Chorus.ai, I can easily view key moments by rep or across the team. Below is a picture of the summary:
I can drill into any of these major areas and decide which demo I’d like to listen to and where in the demo I should focus.
Here are some questions to ask yourself while listening to your reps sales calls:
- What is the balance in talk time?
- How consistently do your reps execute or follow their call scripts?
- When you compare average performers to top performers, what do your top performers do differently and/or better?
- What are the common objections?
- What type of needs/challenges do prospects face?
- During a demo, what functionality solicits the “wow” reaction?
Having the right sales stack in place isn’t just about enabling the rep. As a new manager, these tools ensure you can quickly understand what’s happening on sales calls and ensure the time you set aside for this is always productive.
Gone are the days of having to work around the sales rep’s calendar and being at the mercy of whether or not the prospect answers the call or attends the demo.
Recommended Read: 30 Sales Automation Tools to Turbocharge Your Sales Process
#4 – There’s No Such thing As Too Many Questions
The rule of thumb with most companies is you get at least 90 days (some say up to a year) to ask as many questions as you want.
Take full advantage of this. No one is expecting you to have all the answers so don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to have them.
Questions can be a great way to start building a relationship with the key roles you interact with and for individual contributors it empowers them to have a voice.
Starting at a new company is a great opportunity to set new expectations and habits while establishing your leadership identity.
Whether you follow the tips above or not, take time to think through your transition plan and the key things you want to focus on in your first 30 days on the job.
This time will go by very quickly but it is critical to building a foundation for your future success with the company.