You were just promoted for the first time to sales manager. Congrats! The path for most sales managers, typically bag carrying sales reps themselves once, is to come up through the ranks and exceed their quota every step of the way.

As a sales rep, you spent your days focusing on your individual deals, tactically thinking through how to win deals in order to achieve and exceed your quota. You sell value, remove obstacles and focus on getting sign off from the customer. You are paid to focus entirely on hitting your number. Sales reps control their own fate, the effort and skill put in is a direct result to their output.

With that in mind, you can understand the challenges a sales rep might face as they transition to management. They’ve spent their entire career focusing on their individual efforts and results. Now they are given a team and expected to help them collectively succeed. It is very easy for a first time sales manager to revert to ‘selling mode’. The tendency is to take over a deal they feel is not being worked in a manner they deem appropriate.

However, as my former VP of Sales, Scott Crawford, told me very early in my days as a first time sales manager, my role now required a different skill set.

He told me to focus on 5 key areas:

  1. Hire
    You should always be looking to build your hiring pipeline. Do not wait till you have an opening to start recruiting because hiring the right candidates is hard and takes time. You should always be looking to hire the best reps that you can afford.
  2. Enable
    Enabling your sales reps starts when they are hired, but certainly doesn’t end there. It’s key for every sales manager to ensure their team has everything they need to successfully compete in every deal.
  3. Coach
    Just like a head coach, a sales manager has the ability to influence at both a team level and on an individual basis. Provide guidance and coach each rep to help them through deals and ensure they are working on weaknesses in their selling style on a regular basis. Recommend training or enablement sessions to help further their development.
  4. Motivate
    The best sales leaders I’ve encountered have two qualities that I believe are important for positive motivation: 1) they genuinely care about their people and their pursuit of hitting quota and 2) they put their team’s needs above their own.
    As a first time sales manager, you won’t have all the answers and you are likely to screw things up from time to time. But I can tell you from personal experience that if you genuinely care and put your team’s needs first, your team will respect you for it.
  5. Retain
    Once you’ve built a sales team with great culture and proper training, the last step is retaining your sales reps! Since you hired the best sales reps you can afford in #1, and enabled them with training and an environment to be successful, your reps should feel like they can have a long, happy life at your company.
    Read the full article on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-tips-first-time-sales-managers-jj-ferroni

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