Tips For Managing Your First Three Months As A New Sales Manager
The first few months for any one entering a new management position is daunting at the best of times. Even those lucky enough to be supported with management training will find it challenging. This is particularly true for sales people being promoted to sales managers. How they manage and what they do in their initial three months is critical to their future success as it will determine how the Sales Manager copes with your new employees, colleagues and superiors later on.
You should not fall into the trap of assuming that everyone will welcome you with open arms. Indeed, it is likely that you will be looked at in a critical way by some people. You are likely to have to manage anxiety from your sales team, colleague envy from those who attended the same management training as you but who were passed over for promotion, as well as resentment from people in other departments. Everything you do and every decision you make will be subject to scrutiny. Rumours will be rife. The following advice will help you make the transition more easily.
Whilst it is important that you quickly aquire an overview of the sales situation, it is equally important that you do not rush into things. You should move forward instead in a systematic way. To do this we suggest you divide your first three months into an "orientation", a "concept" and a "profiling" phase. What to focus on in these phases is described below.
The orientation pahase is the initial phase in your new position. It will probably last about four weeks. Aim to spend much of these first four weeks as possible away from your office and not in the company building. Arrange to accompany your new team on client visits for half days or longer. Have a personal chat with each of your sales people to get to know them.
In this first phase you should set the following goal for yourself: to listen, take on board the problems encountered by your salespeople and gain impressions of the market and your clients.
Never give your point of view on decissions your predecessor may have made as doing so will damage your credibility. If such matters are raised you should appear interested, but remain reserved.
During your first few months, avoid making any decisions that go beyond your day-to-day responsibilities. Defer making far-reaching decisions.
The next month in the job should be considered as the concept phase. You should spend most of this second month at your desk drawing up a list outlining the problems you noticed during your first four weeks.
Start by writing a rough draft of your future selling strategy and selling policy. This would include, for example, the competitive situation, sales routes, condition policy, offer programme, area structure, management of the external sales department and sales promotion.
To round off your information, have discussions with representative customers, large-scale buyers and colleagues - such as the Head of Marketing, the Production Manager, the Head of Logistics, etc. Limit your contact with the sales force during this phase to telephone conversations. Remember to constantly discuss your thoughts and ideas with the company management.
Your third month in the job should be considered as the Profiling phase. Now is the right time to publish your "profile" and discuss the concept phase and explain your objectives in detail with your organisations management. It is important that you set priorities jointly and secure moral support. Inform your colleagues in the department of your plans and intentions. Agree the "ground rules" for future co-operation. reassure your department colleagues of your own aim of cooperating with them.
You should also arrange a team meeting with your sales team. You will need to inform your salespeople of your conclusions from observations made during client visits and tell the sales force about the goals you have set and the expectations you have of them. Ensure you take time to respond to any questions they may have. Also, let them know about any pending decisions or any decisions you have already made.
If you apply the above three month action plan you are more likely to be successful. If, however, you feel you need more support - as many new sales managers do - you can always attend a specialist sales force management training course which will help you build the specialist skills needed to do one of the toughest management jobs around - managing a sales force.
Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specialises in running management training courses to improve business performance. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies. View more details by clicking on the link.