BY ALICE HEIMAN •
Being promoted from a sales rep to a new sales leader is a heady experience. You have a new title, new prestige, and a new career opportunity – but you also have new expectations, goals, and a steep learning curve to master quickly. I reached out to some expert sales coaches for their best advice on making this transition. Here’s what they said.
Jeff Shore Says: What Really Matters? Two Words: Lead Conversion.
As a new sales manager, you will face an immediate battle for your time and focus. Everyone will want to define the job for you. And, if you are not careful, you might find yourself spending your days only fighting fires, wiping noses, and breaking up playground fights.
The key question to ask yourself in your first 30 days is this: “What really matters?” You need to have a firm and unshakable answer – and you need to defend that answer with every fiber of your body.
To my mind, a sales leader should be absolutely consumed with one objective: lead conversion. Nothing – and I mean nothing – in your day will ever compete with the importance of lead conversion. You need to think it, eat it, sleep it, and talk about it nonstop.
Lead conversion in deal making. Lead conversion in coaching your salespeople. Lead conversion in CRM accountability. Lead conversion in sales meetings. Lead conversion for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Everyone in your organization needs to understand this priority. Being asked to sit in a stupid meeting? Not if it costs you lead conversion time. A bunch of important paperwork on your desk? Is it more important than lead conversion? Being volunteered for a special project? Only if the goal of the project is lead conversion.
Make this your mantra. Let everyone in your world know it. Post it on your wall. Talk about it at every sales meeting. Heck, get a frickin’ t-shirt made.
My advice for your first 30 days in just two words? LEAD CONVERSION!
Lisa D. Magnuson Says: Follow The ABC’s: Assess, Build, and Catapult.
What is the best way to get off to a fast start with your new sales team? It’s not by doing what you know best – which is probably selling as if you were still an individual contributor. Instead, stop and think about the ABC’s: Assess, Build, and Catapult.
Assess: Use formal assessments, observations, and solid analysis to evaluate your team’s results so far. What are the strengths and true motivations of each seller? Prioritize field travel and take careful note of each rep’s preparation, approach, and selling skills. This is a golden opportunity to develop a baseline.
Build: Now that you have a baseline, resist piling up meetings. Instead, build your management foundation. Decide on the core activities that will drive success – and schedule those first. Consider field travel, coaching, seller growth and development, and recognition as part of your base. Build your team on a rock-solid foundation.
Catapult: Top sales managers lead their teams to the top of the rankings month after month and year after year. They know how to catapult each team member to excellence. New sales managers must shift from individual contributors to team champions. The only way to accomplish this is to keep your vision set on the critical few versus the unnecessary many.
Carol Roby Says: Learn and Unlearn Quickly.
You’ve just been promoted from being on top of your sales game. Now, you must lead a sales team without a road map. But first, you must learn how to be a successful team leader in as short a time as possible. At the same time, you must unlearn what made you successful as an individual contributor. Often the skills and strategies you used to reach the top of your sales game will not work as you lead a sales team.
To achieve this, focus on these five areas:
Take stock. Listen and get to know your team’s strengths, opportunities, and needs from multiple perspectives. Do this by:
Spending time with each team member
Getting out in front of customers to hear how they are responding
Connecting with other functions within the company to understand how your team interacts
Create a 90-day plan. Develop an onboarding plan that will enable you to establish relationships and create an engaged team. Try:
Immersing yourself in the business
Looking for places to get quick wins
Leveraging the diversity of your team
Understand the strategy and develop a communication plan to translate the strategy to the team.
Be aware of the “mind-shift” of this role. This is one of the biggest transitions there is – moving from an individual contributor to leader.
Don’t go at it alone. Find a peer, mentor, or thinking partner to share ideas and gather input. Unlike being a member of a sales team, a sales leader often finds him/herself isolated.