My first year in sales management was rough. I try hard to celebrate that sweet, young thing instead of cringing, but it’s hard some days. I remember some doozy mistakes:
- Motivating over email. I had 2 reps on my new team that hit the end of their ramp and went against quota before anyone else. Chris and Melissa (no kidding, 23 years later). I thought they might need some boosting, and I never saw them as they sat way on the other side of the office as I did. So I sat down and crafted a long letter.
There were so many things wrong with that email!
- Shall we talk about coaching? I was terrified. To be clear, I had no experience selling what they were selling, no experience managing, and had never call coached in my life. Yeah, saying I avoided it like the plague would be an understatement. Except for my tenured guy, Noonan. I always tried to coach with him because I’d learn something. Guess who REALLY didn’t want my novice help? (he’d applied for my job)
- Meeting management. Looking back I think I managed everything ad-hoc except for our team meetings. Those would go on for HOURS because I crammed everything into one. I’d prepare for DAYS. I’d still go long. THEN the guest speaker would come in.
Yeah, these are real stories. It took me about six months to figure out the job and for my team to excel. And we did. We became number one in the division in those 6 months. Most days I think they did it in spite of me! And because I still feel the embarrassment, frustration, and exhaustion in my body as I type this, I’ve spent my career trying to fix it for others.
Factor 8 management curriculum is literally job training for sales managers. Not leadership training with a few sales role-plays, it’s how to do the freaking job. Like I wish someone would have taught me. It’s one of the key 3 ingredients in the over 100+ promotions we’ve earned with our #GirlsClub communities! Here are a few nuggets we teach and share. If you’re a new manager or an aspiring one, I hope you’ll take one (or a few) of our online management courses or programs. They’re bite-sized versions of our Fortune 1000 corporate programs.
Get your house in order. A manager’s cadence is akin to a rep’s sales process. It’s the dance steps, the framework, the skeleton on which you’ll hang your management suit. Get it locked down. We teach about six essential manager meetings:
- The performance 1:1
- The sales huddle
- The quarterly review
- The team pipeline meeting
- The sales strategy meeting
- The team meeting
Each of these has different goals, timelines, and preparation actions, but once you lock these in you’re halfway home to getting a hold of your day. If you’d like to see your family or some daylight hours during your first year, believe me, this is key!
Delegate everything you can to these meetings. Keep the line away from your desk and work through needs in their appropriate meeting. It’s like getting file folders for all the crap on your desk. Be clear:
Sales Reps are like water. We will ALWAYS flow to the path of least resistance.
Asking you to help or do it for me will always be easier than me looking it up or figuring it out. Resist, dear friend, resist. Fish. Teaching. Eating. You get it, right? Remember, daylight hours! When we spend all day with a “line at our desk” (remote equivalent: Slack blowing up), we feel GREAT we helped people all day and we had some answers, but then we get to keep working all night to do our real job.
Get really clear on your job role. You’re going to WANT to solve everything for your team because this validates you. We all feel nervous in these new roles and it’s hard to immediately strike the right balance of power. New leaders are either baby tyrants or mother hens. Leading through telling or leading through helping. Find the middle ground. On two sides of the paper, fill them up. Now you know what NOT to do.
Stop doing your old job. The Peter principle is a real thing. It means you’ll keep getting promoted until you reach your limit of competence. Translated, that means until you quit learning the new job and we find you still doing your old job. Don’t fizzle out at the first leadership rung. No, you can’t keep any accounts. No! Uh-uh! Zip! None. Give it to a rep on your team and help them be great instead.
Celebrate failures and wins. Every week come together as a team to talk about the week’s highlights. It keeps you all focused on the W’s, motivated to do it again, and builds unity. Keep it short, but be sure it also includes failures. The best sellers and managers see sales as a sport in which they’ll continuously improve. That means failing. No’s. Lost deals. Hang-ups. For you it means upset. Missed opportunities. Stepping in it with your boss. Share these with your team too. If you can vulnerably share your journey to being the best leader you can be for them, they’ll cheer you on your journey.
So will I.