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Some Useful tips for the New Sales Managers to thrive in their leadership roles

10 minutes read

So you just got promoted to a sales manager’s role at your company or landed a new sales manager’s job at a new company. Firstly, hearty congratulations on that.

Now you must be aware that a sales manager holds great responsibilities. Even the most seasoned and effective salespeople can struggle when they begin to lead a sales team. But there’s no need to feel intimidated. You’ve earned this role. Now it’s time to get out there and kill it.

Good leadership comes in many forms and you’ll quickly discover what leadership style works best for you and your team.

As the leader of a sales team, you can do many things to maximize your team’s performance output. But this to happen, your sales reps must believe in you and take you as a leader who can help them accomplish the overall company’s mission and their personal goals.

As John Maxwell said: “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

So, in order to help you become an effective leader right from the beginning in your new sales manager role, we have put together some key tips which will help you find your footing as a manager. Let’s dive in.

1. Be thorough and thoughtful when hiring

Even the strongest and most refined sales leadership skills can only take you so far if the team you’re leading is unruly, unmotivated, and underqualified. If you want your team to thrive, you need reps who have the skills and disposition to buy into your culture while effectively handling their responsibilities.

That starts with you being involved and thoughtful in the hiring process. Look for qualified reps who reconcile potential and sales acumen with humility and motivation. Don't breeze through this step — you can't lead a team of reps who aren't prepared or willing to contribute to the team dynamic.

2. Get to know your team

If you want a sense of how your team wants to be managed and the leadership tactics that will resonate with them the most, you need to have a feel for who they are. Schedule regular one-on-ones with them, especially when you first take over.

Connect with your team. Try to get a sense of how they learn and work. And let them get to know you as well. You don't want to seem unfamiliar and overly imposing. Remember, you're managing them, not commanding them.

You don't want them to be reluctant to come to you with issues or concerns they might be running into. You don't have to be too "buddy-buddy," but you still need to be approachable. Acquainting yourself with your team helps you strike that balance.

3. Be involved without being overbearing

I know that I have said this in the previous point, but as this is very crucial, I’m trying to reiterate it. Always remember that you're managing your team, not commanding them. That means you have to be actively involved in their efforts without micromanaging. Having regular one-on-ones will be a big help here.

Give your team the space and security to speak up about certain aspects of their roles they might be struggling with. And when that happens, make sure you help guide them through those processes without doing their jobs for them. You never want to be too distant, but you don’t want to deprive your reps of growth opportunities by holding their hands for too long.

4. Set SMART Goals

Goal-setting is central to effective sales leadership.

As with most business objectives, the goals you set for your team should be SMART — or specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. If you want your team to act on your objectives, you need to check those boxes.

For instance, if you lead a team of SDRs, you shouldn't call a meeting to tell them, "Book more meetings." Instead, you would want to go with something like, "We want to improve our overall meeting acceptance rate by at least 2.5% over the next six months while maintaining our current call cadence."

5. Be clear when assigning responsibilities

Obvious as this might sound, reps need to know what's expected of them if you want them to do what's expected of them. You need to clearly articulate

  • What are your team members' responsibilities?
  • When do they need to fulfill them?
  • And what results will they see if they're successful?

Open and thorough communication is key here. Make sure you connect with your reps and give them specific instructions. This way, you can set them on the right course and provide a solid basis for identifying where lapses in understanding might stem from if they occur.

6. Clarify how your reps will be compensated

Compensation is the most fundamental and powerful incentive for reps to perform. After all, it's literally the reason they're working in the first place. If you want to get the most out of your team, they need to know how they're being compensated with respect to

  • Base salary,
  • Commission,
  • And any other financial incentives you might be offering

Make sure you have a clearly defined commission structure in place. And familiarize your team with what they can expect to see if they meet or exceed quota.

Establishing this understanding will help in motivating your reps to strive to achieve their goals.

7. Create a healthy competitive atmosphere

Sales is an inherently competitive field. It rests heavily on individual effort, and while cohesion and collaboration are necessary, results still often amount to how well each specific rep can perform. So, if you want your team to be as successful as possible, you can't neutralize the element of competition.

But competition can be fickle. There's a fine line between productively competitive and toxically confrontational, and crossing it can take a massive toll on the morale of your team. You want your reps to challenge one another, not resent each other.

Recognizing individual achievements, leaderboards, and competitive initiatives like spiffs can help set an air of friendly, constructive competition. If you want to get more from your sales team, maintaining this kind of atmosphere can really help your case.

8. Leverage relevant technology, and make sure your team buys in

Nowadays, virtually every successful sales team is supported by a well-constructed tech stack. Resources like CRMs, sales automation tools, sales enablement tools, and conversation intelligence platforms can help your team stay organized, efficient, and constantly learning.

  • A CRM can provide a shared repository for customer data to make for more cohesive sales efforts.
  • Conversation intelligence platforms can offer you more perspective on where your reps might be struggling on the phone.
  • A sales enablement tool helps to keep your reps up-to-date with the latest sales knowledge and skills. And keeps them motivated to accomplish their goals
  • Sales automation resources can streamline outreach and take the unnecessary strain off your salespeople.

These handfuls of examples are barely scraping the surface of the technology at your disposal. Leading a sales team involves a lot of burdens and moving parts — leveraging sales technology to help lighten the load will suit you and your reps alike.

9. Provide detailed and actionable feedback

Vagueness won’t do you any favors when leading a sales team. Detailed feedback benefits both you and your reps. It provides them with the necessary direction to develop while also helping set the proper course for your team as a whole.

Make sure your praise and critiques are specific, constructive, and actionable. Don't just chastise an underperforming rep and tell them they need to pick up the slack. Give them context, be sensitive but frank, and provide some kind of action they can take to improve their performance.

If a rep is struggling to convert cold calls, don't tell them, "You need to do better on your calls." You're much better off saying something like, "I listened in on a few of your calls, and you have our messaging down — but you're letting prospects dominate the conversation too much. Don't be reluctant to take a little more charge and offer a bit more monologue once they agree to talk."

10. Pick a sales methodology, and instill it in your reps

A sales methodology is an underlying framework or set of principles that guide your sales reps through your sales process. Having a sales methodology can be a major asset to any sales leader looking to promote cohesion and get more out of their team.

If you have a framework that helps set the tone for elements like your messaging, outreach cadence, discovery questions, and general approach to interactions with prospects and customers, you can have more direction and perspective when trying to manage your team.

11. Celebrate individual and team wins

Your team needs to know that their contributions and accomplishments are valued, respected, and appreciated. That kind of acknowledgment can provide a major boost to your reps’ morale and keeps them motivated. That's why you should always call out the team and individual wins even if they don't exactly move mountains.

A quick shoutout in a Slack channel, email thread, or team meeting can go a long way in letting your reps know that you’re paying attention and appreciate their hard work. Professional recognition flat-out feels good, and it could be the “x-factor” that pushes a rep to work that much harder.

12. Acquaint your team with other departments

Keeping your team isolated from other departments at your company creates unnecessary friction and prevents your reps from having a fully realized picture of who they're selling to. You want your team members to have some acquaintance with your marketing, customer service, customer success, and product development departments.

Helping your team establish those relationships and maintain active lines of communication with those connections gives them the perspective on

  • Why leads are interested in your product or service
  • What issues do your customers run into with your product or service frequently
  • And how your audience leverages your solution

amongst several other elements.

By conning with and understanding from all these departments, your sales reps can make more thoughtful, fleshed-out sales efforts.

Want to learn about the sales close rates across various industries? Check out this blog below:

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What is the Goldilocks Effect and how to apply it in your business?

Want to learn how to set SMART goals for your team?

How to Set Smart Goals for your Sales Team?

Want to learn how to do deal coaching and skill coaching for your sales team members? Check out these blogs below:

Deal Coaching Vs Skill Coaching: What’s the Difference?

Deal Coaching question that you should ask to help your reps to close more deals

Looking for a sales coaching template? Check out this article for a sample coaching template

Sales Coaching Template for Managers

Are you more like a coach or a manager for your sales team? Find out when your team needs you to be a manager and when do they need you to be a coach?

Coach or Manager? What does your team want?

Want to instill a buyer-first mindset in your sales team members? Learn how to do that from this blog below:

How can managers instill a Buyer-First mindset amongst their team members?

Published on Sat Jul 9 2022

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