What Ryan Wished He Knew Before Becoming a Sales Manager
By Ryan Taft
With a growing economy comes the need to grow our sales teams. That usually means promoting new sales managers.
When I was first promoted into a sales leadership position, I received the most robust training you could ask for. It went something like this.
“Congratulations. You got the job. Now get out there and get more sales.”
If you couldn’t sense my sarcastic tone above, let me be clear…I got zero training!
If I could go back in time and give myself five keys to sales management, this is what I would share.
1. Management is about developing people, not directing them – No one likes being told what to do. Especially adults. By being in a management position you are given a great responsibility to help your team become better people. Do that and the sales will come.
2. Train your team to become problem solvers – If you don’t want to spend all your time reacting to emergencies from your sales people, then you have to train them to think like a manager.
One time, as a salesperson, I needed help with a customer issue from Steve, the President of the company. He said, “Ryan, if you were me what would you tell you to do?” We then brainstormed some ideas and came up with a great solution.
As I walked out of his office, Steve said, “Don’t bring any more problems to me without three potential solutions as well.” I didn’t need to go back to Steve very often. Do the same thing with your sales people and you will have fewer fires to put out!
3. Sales happen in the field, not in the office – Have you ever read the book Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni? It’s a good one. I secretly want to hand it to every sales manager I know.
Too many sales managers spend valuable time doing the wrong things. I did. If management is about developing people, then you must be on the field when the action is happening. How else can you develop your team?
My SVP of Sales, Marcia Dillon, was so passionate about sales managers being in the field with their sales people that she actually evicted them from the corporate office. We simply couldn’t be there. Meetings can happen from anywhere. Skype anyone? Get in the field!
4. How to say No – It’s not just your VP’s job to get you in the field. It’s your job as well. I believe the sales management job is the most crucial (and hardest) job in any organization. Everyone wants a piece of your time.
That being the case, you must learn to say, “No.” If you don’t, you’ll end up in lots of meetings and not doing your primary job…getting sales!
5. I am responsible for the culture – When I became a manager, I didn’t understand my authority. I thought I needed to “fit in” to the culture. So I did. Looking back, I realize that the sales people were praying for someone to come in and change the atmosphere, because it was extremely toxic.
I am here to tell you that it’s your job to shape the culture. Even if you are stepping into a great culture, it is up to you to make it even better. I challenge you to lead in this area. Your team will love you for it.
Of course there are many other things I wished I had learned, but this is a good list to start with. I would love to hear other lessons that new sales leaders should know as they start their career impacting the lives of sales professionals around the world. Please share with me on twitter @RyanGTaft.
There are more lessons your sales managers need to learn, and Jeff Shore’s Sales Leadership Academy is where they need to be. This is NOT like any other sales management training course available today.
The Sales Leadership Academy is a 12-week immersive learning experience that accelerates the performance curve for new sales managers so that they deliver profitable results faster while making an immediate and lasting organizational impact. For more information click here.
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