Congratulations! You’ve just been promoted to the rank of sales manager. Yet it is the very word “promoted” that puts you at risk.
Let’s be clear. As Lee B. Salz says: “Sales management is not a job elevation – it’s a job change.”
Unfortunately, most companies don’t recognize that selling does not fully prepare you for the role of sales manager. While your bosses don’t acknowledge that this is a job change, you will still be held accountable for performance. And they won’t wait long to get it!
What can you do? Here are four important steps to make sure you succeed in this new role:
- Accept that this is a job change – and do not let ego get in your way. While you may have been a rock star salesperson, you are now a novice sales manager. Once you come to terms with that, the road to success becomes much clearer.
- Study and research the role of sales management. There is a wealth of information available to develop role mastery. Read blogs and books on various aspects of sales management. Watch Webcasts to learn about your new role. Become a student and learn – just as you would expect the salespeople who now report to you to do.
- Find a mentor. This role is new to you, so working with a successful sales manager can shorten your learning curve. Look for a mentor outside of your company with whom you feel comfortable discussing confidential issues.
- Hire a coach. If you are one of the lucky new sales managers, your company will invest in you to help you succeed. Based on the blogs and books you’ve read, select a thought leader with whom you feel there is philosophical alignment. Then contact them for a coaching engagement.
Create a Wall of Dreams Next to Your Scoreboard
As Selling Power founder Gerhard Gschwandtner says: “Get personal with reps and believe in their dreams.” Ask each of your salespeople to share what dreams motivate them. Do they crave a fancy SUV, a vacation home in Hawaii, a heli-skiing trip in Chile, a yoga workshop in India, or volunteer opportunities in a Tibetan orphanage? Invite them to paste pictures of their dreams on the wall next to the scoreboard.
While the scoreboard reminds reps to make their numbers, these images allow salespeople to express their inner desires and assert their individuality. This small change can transform the conversations in your office. Reps will understand their peers on a deeper level and become more aware of the “why” behind their sales goals. As the saying goes, the bigger the why, the harder the try – and the better the how.
Deploy Empathy as a Leadership Tool
If you want your company to be customer-centric, you must inspire your sales team to show empathy for their customers. Emotions play a vital role in the client experience. Customers want to be understood on a logical and emotional level. The same is true for your coworkers. “If you treat people with dignity and respect, they will give it right back to you,” Bill McDermott wrote in his bestselling book Winners Dream. Empathy elevates the dignity of the human spirit.
Evangelize a No-limit Mindset
Salespeople come to work to win, and they don’t want to work for managers who set limits. Great sales managers are CEOs – Chief Encouragement Officers – who believe in each salesperson’s capacity to grow. If you can believe it, they can achieve it. It’s that simple.
Give Constructive Feedback
To quote Mark Hunter: “Praise in public. Critique in private.” As a leader, one of your most powerful tools is something you can’t measure. It’s something you can’t see. But, in the end, it will make a bigger impact than nearly anything else. It’s culture!
Team and company culture play a much bigger role in sales than people realize – because culture is the core of how people see themselves. Never forget that culture starts at the top. It begins with you! Your people will look to you and will watch you. They will watch what you do and, just as importantly, what you don’t do.
To create a positive culture, treat people with respect. A simple way to do this is by coaching people privately and praising them publicly. When your team hears you discussing others in a positive light, they naturally will want to succeed and get you talking about them too!
Conversely, never share negative comments publicly. The moment you speak negatively about one salesperson you will damage the trust you have earned with the rest of the team.
It’s a simple concept but is worth repeating. Praise in public. Critique in private.
The culture you create will determine your team’s level of motivation – and a positive culture can motivate people to achieve what they didn’t think was possible.
Catch Alice Heiman at a Sales 3.0 Conference in 2018, where she is a regular co-emcee! See dates and locations at http://www.sales30conf.com/.