Going from being an individual contributor to a sales manager is a whole new experience. You’re no longer just responsible for your own number but now you’re responsible for several people’s numbers and your own. If you’re like me, you might have had imposter syndrome no matter how ready you thought you were for the role. Having started my career at a startup as a Sales Development Representative to making my way into a Director of Sales role, there’s a lot of guidance I received that helped me get out of that mindset. So if you’re an individual contributor looking to become a manager, a leader within a team, or are a new manager here are a few tips that can help you start your leadership career on the right track.
First 1 on 1 meeting with your new hire
- Have a 1 on 1 with your new team member. Do this immediately to understand how they learn best. Are they a visual, hands-on, or auditory learner or maybe it’s a combination of those. Apply that during coaching sessions to see their ramp time decrease. Also, provide insights on how you normally communicate as well so they know what to expect from you as their leader.
- Learn about why this person wanted to join your company and team. Learn their personal and professional goals. You probably asked this during their interview, but that 30-minute chat with someone under pressure might not give you the full picture you get once they’re hired.
- Be consistent. Holding weekly 1 on 1s with a specific structure and expectation will foster better communication and goal alignment with your team.
- Set realistic goals. Whether that be outbound activities for the week or demo sets. You can make it attainable by looking at the previous week’s or month’s number.
- Align day to day with the overall picture. Sales is a grind. Your team is prospecting, making those dials, objection handling, setting demos and doing it all over again, and burnout is real. As a leader, it’s helpful to provide insights on how their daily, weekly activities impact their overall monthly numbers. But don’t forget what that person cares about: path to promotion, company goal, and commission payout to have that down payment for a new car or house.
- Have a visual. Physically show your reps week over week with how their work is getting them closer to their payout or quota attainment. It can be a huge motivator when you can see how one more demo occurred, Sales Accepted Opportunity, or closed/won deal could get you to the next pay scale and also toward your team and company goal.
- Ask for feedback. Getting feedback can be tough whether it’s from your boss, direct report, or colleague, but it’s important for your growth and for your team to grow. The fact your team knows that you’re open to feedback can have a ripple effect and have them be receptive to your feedback. This can increase creativity and collaboration in resolving issues and reduce rep turnover.
- Take all feedback/communication seriously. We’re all human and we make mistakes, whether we’ve been a manager for six months or six years there’s always room for growth. Whether you can act on the feedback immediately or not it’s important to close the loop and let your team members know you heard them and are actively working on it.
- Give them the “Why” when asking them to do something. Have you ever had someone tell you “Just do it because I said.”? I have, and when I don’t know why I’m doing something I tend to not do it properly or can’t do more than what I’m told because I don’t know what type of outcome it’s supposed to yield. Explaining to your team why you’re asking them to do something opens the door for better understanding, more creativity, and investment from them, thus better results.
Overall, there’s so much you can do as a leader to help your team, and one of the biggest things I stick with is constantly asking myself am I handling this situation with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? The fact that you’ve read this means you’re in the growth mindset which is exciting, so keep it up as it’ll yield positive results.