By Courtney Crabtree
So, you’ve taken on a role as the leader of an existing sales team. You’re feeling optimistic and ready for the challenge, but what are the best practices that will lead you to success?
Whether you’ve been brought on board to turn around an underperforming sales team with a winning sales strategy, or it’s just a standard changing of the guard, this is your opportunity to make an impact.
Follow these 7 secrets to make your transition as successful as possible and solidify not only your legacy, but lasting sales performance improvement for your organization.
1. Understand Exactly What’s Expected of You
The first thing you must do as the newly appointed sales leader or sales manager is to understand exactly what is expected of you. The responsibilities of the role were likely outlined for you before you took the position, but it’s important to get clear on the goals that have been set by those in the company who you report to.
What are the numbers you need the sales department to hit? What sort of changes are the leaders of the organization counting on you to make?
Get crystal clear on this information, and then begin your plan to work towards these goals.
2. Establish Expectations with Your Team Early On
Aim to set expectations and behavioral norms with your new sales force right away. If you’re not intentional about this from the beginning, your team will set the standards — which may or may not be a good thing.
Expectations will range from sales process adherence, sales productivity, CRM compliance, team meetings and more.
Establish a formal cadence for when you will hold sales team meetings as well as one-to-one meetings with each sales rep. For example, you might have your sales team meet (in person or virtually) every Monday at 1:30, and schedule recurring monthly one-to-one meetings with each rep individually.
Find tips for structuring your meeting as well as an easy-to-use agenda template here.
3. Solicit Feedback from Your Salespeople
Your salespeople will be a wealth of information for you as you navigate your new role as their leader. Tap into their knowledge by asking them the following questions:
- Where are they facing the most challenges?
- Which established systems, procedures, and approaches seem to be working well?
- What kind of resources would help them perform better?
Remember that the sales professionals you’re now leading may very likely have more industry experience than you. Seasoned sales reps will be much more receptive to coaching from a new manager if they have been asked to contribute their knowledge and expertise.
4. Understand What Makes Each of Your Reps Tick
To truly motivate and influence your existing team members and improve their performance, you need to understand them from a people level.
Get to know each sales rep, and go beyond just learning what they like to do on the weekends.
To be a highly effective coach, you should understand the behavior style, motivator, and communication preferences of each of your sales reps. Luckily there are assessment tools that allow you to do that — to “look under the hood” and see what makes each one of your people tick.
That knowledge allows you to adapt your coaching style to match your people, and speak to them in a way that hits home and drives them to act.
5. Establish a Standardized Sales Process
Depending on the situation you’ve walked into, your sales team may or may not follow a standardized sales process. Perhaps they are following some sort of process, but the execution isn’t as effective as it could be, or the methodology is not aligned with what your market demands.
The changing of sales leadership is an excellent time to start fresh and train the sales team in a common sales process. Under new leadership and with a new sales process to follow, your sales force can achieve alignment, streamline communication and transform into a high-performing group of sellers.
6. Optimize Your Sales Hiring and Onboarding Process
As you build and grow the sales team you’re now in charge of, be sure that you’re bringing on new hires that can perform at high levels — and onboarding them correctly.
Start by understanding exactly what your sales positions need in order to be successful, and then hire people that match your ideal candidate profile. You can do this by using strategic sales interview questions, and backing up your gut feelings with a validated assessment.
Before you even begin hiring, ensure that your onboarding and orientation programs are in place and built to allow the new hire to be successful as quickly as possible.
Learn more tips for optimizing your sales hiring process here.
7. Apply What’s Worked In the Past
You were chosen to lead your organization’s sales team for a reason. Take what you’ve learned to do effectively over your career — from organizational skills, to processes and procedures, to the way you connect with people on an individual level — and apply those best practices with your new team.
At the same time, keep a growth mindset and commit to continually improving your leadership skillset. The Brooks Group is here to help you navigate the challenges that come along with being in a sales leadership position.
Courtney Crabtree is a Regional Vice President of Sales for The Brooks Group, where she brings over 15 years of sales and marketing experience. Courtney’s strong communication and strategizing skills allow her to partner with clients and design solutions that help them reach and exceed organizational goals.