A Note to the First Time Sales Manager

Congratulations on your new role! This is going to challenge you. It is going to stretch you beyond your current capabilities, and it is going to be rewarding in ways big and small, some rewards you won’t recognize at first.

Success in this role is going to require a total shift in what has likely gotten you to this point, namely your individual success. Your individual success indicates that you have the ability to lead yourself, to take initiative, and to reach your personal and professional goals. Your success now depends entirely on your ability to teach, train, coach, and develop others to find their greatest level of personal and professional success.

Your success is a mirror that reflects your team’s performance. Your results are their results. Not to worry, their results are also yours.

There are some things it is important to get right from the very beginning.

First, and most importantly, you have to establish the culture of your team. Are you going to allow people to be negative, cynical, or pessimistic, believing that external events, circumstances, and irrational competitors dictate their results? Or are you going to insist on a positive, optimistic, future-oriented, and empowered culture that rejects anything to the contrary? Leaving this to chance can be your undoing, and it is next to impossible to correct once a negative culture is established.

Values and culture are non-negotiable. You need to establish this at the outset.

Second, and equally important, you have to understand that your company is going to see you as a leader, believing that you serve the company and that you are responsible for managing the resources with which you have been entrusted. This is an honest, but partial, view of your role. To your team, you are their leader. They are going to become what you help them to become. You are going to be stretched, your company will ask too much of you when it comes to your time, and your people will need more from you than you are going to be prepared to provide. If you have to err, err on the side of building your people; this will be the key to your success over the long term.

Third, leaders lead. You have choices available to you as a leader. The worst leaders lead by force, by coercion, and compulsion. The very best leaders start from a place of inspiration, influence, and persuasion. That said, you cannot leave it up to your team to decide their mission for themselves. Your role is to execute your company’s strategy, and you dictate what needs to be done and how that is going to be achieved. You can be very non-directive in your coaching, but you have to make these decisions. Trust your instinct.

Finally, you have one single opportunity to break from the past. You must not waste this opportunity. If a change needs to be made, make it. Hold everyone accountable, and do not let up. It is very easy for people to slip back into their comfort zone, and some will try to wait you out. You cannot allow this to happen; you must draw a bright line here, and then you must defend it. You were put in this role to produce the best possible results from the team you have been selected to lead, and that should be your goal.

If you help everyone on your team to grow and generate the best performance they are capable of, you will do well.

Filed under: Leadership

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