Oh, so you've already heard the part where the sale manager is no longer an individual contributor? Well, it’s true, but that truth doesn't give you much guidance on what you are supposed to be doing, does it?
Have no fear. Here's some help on how you can rock your first job as a sales manager.
Understand that your success is going to depend on the success of your team, and more importantly, each individual member of your team. Your role is now one of leadership. A leader builds people. This means you need to spend your time coaching, training, and developing the individual members of your team. It also means you need to do far more than checking the box when it comes to their territory plan, their account plan, their pipeline, and the individual opportunities within the pipeline.
Your management and leadership responsibilities for the organization will crowd out the time you have for your team. But your success is not going to be measured by your ability to generate reports. Your success is going to be measured by the content of those reports. That's the sharp end of the stick. Spend your time training, coaching, and developing the individual members of your team. Use every conversation as an opportunity to coach. The stronger your team, the better your results.
You're going to have to help your sales force with the largest and most important opportunities in their pipelines. Don't be confused; this doesn't mean that you're going to sell the account for them or that you're going to be the super closer. What it does mean is that you are going to need to be deeply engaged in the strategy around winning accounts and, when necessary, you're going to accompany your salesperson on sales calls when you can make a real contribution to winning that opportunity.
And speaking of making sales calls, even though it's old school, nothing is going to help you learn more about the individuals on your team, how they are doing, and what kind of help they need, than a good old fashioned ride along. Now that sales teams are spread out all across the country and working from home, there's no bullpen, there's no bell to ring when we win, and this isn't as easy as it once was. That means ride alongs are even more critical, and will give you a true competitive advantage when it comes to building your team.
If you had a great sales manager in the past, they likely offered you lessons that you can now imitate in your first role as a sales manager. But the lessons you learned from your great sales manager are only half of the story. Equally important are the lessons you learned from your worst sales manager, which are a template of what not to do. Remember how you felt when you were ignored and neglected when it came to training, development, and coaching?
Remember how you felt when your sales manager treated you like you were nothing more than a means to an end? Remember when you needed help and found yourself alone, without support, because your manager was too busy to take your call? If you want to lead a sales team, you have to care about the individual members on the sales team and care for the team as a whole.
In your first role as sales manager, develop your team, help them win opportunities, and be the leader you wanted. Get these three big things right, and you’ll do an amazing job leading your new team.
Anthony Iannarino is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He has been named one of the top 25 most influential people in sales by both OpenView Partners and Top Sales World. Anthony writes for the magazines SUCCESS and ThinkSales, as well as daily at The Sales Blog.
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