Congratulations on your promotion! Now What?
For many, the promotion into your first sales management position can be one of the most exciting and scary times in your career. The excitement of leading a team and being responsible for a broader element of the organization you serve is electric. This promotion is a great compliment to your leadership capabilities and ability to deliver results. Upper management clearly believes in you. Your dedication, hard work, and skills have brought you to this point. Then reality sets in and you begin to realize that the capabilities that got you here may or may not exist with the resource pool you just inherited. In fact, you may have very little experience or background with your new team. For the first time in your career your results are no longer limited to your efforts. The collective skills set of the team and your ability to bring out the best in them will now dictate your success. Your excitement and euphoria can swing to pure panic! Now What?
As a new manager, you should proactively engage with your team as quickly as possible. Pulling them together as a group gives them an opportunity to get to know you and verify or negate what they have learned from the grapevine, which exists in all organizations. Make sure you share elements of your personal life as well as your career milestones. It will be tough to speak to your management style but you can highlight for them specific things you have admired about managers you have worked directly for or observed. This meeting should be followed up as quickly as possible with one-on-one sessions, giving you an opportunity to get to know each individual on a more personal level. Avoid getting too much input from others about your new team, as personal agendas can taint your opinion on an individual before you get started.
My first management role involved a move to a new city leading a team of individuals, none of which I had ever met. Input from the previous manager included specific comments about one individual who “couldn’t close” and “needed to go.” After meeting with the team I specifically sought out this individual to formulate my own opinion. It did not take long to figure out that the two aforementioned individuals had been locked in a power struggle over control of the team and its direction. I committed to working closely with this individual to learn more about the team, customer set, and key opportunities. I also made clear to him the desk faced my direction for a reason. We quickly developed a strong working relationship and can honestly say this person has turned out to be the best salesperson who ever worked for me.
After meeting your new team, your first priority and business focus should be an assessment of your pipeline. This will give you insight into the health of your business and allow you to evaluate each salesperson as they talk about the strength of their pipeline, key opportunities, and customer relationships. Accurately assessing the probability of key transactions in your pipe is absolutely critical to demonstrating a grasp of the business and identifying potential gaps between the expectations your total pipeline represents versus reality.
As highlighted earlier, one of the great opportunities to deliver value downstream to your direct reports is to get your hands dirty. So again, congratulations on your new role! Time to get to work…
Personal Challenge: I challenge you to dive right in and grasp the details of your business as quickly as possible. As your understanding of your team, customer set, and opportunities ramp, so will your value to the business and your ability to positively impact results.