How would you like to become a better sales manager?

Keep reading this and you’ll get some ideas on how to do it.

Okay, one day I'm a sales representative and the next day I'm a sales manager. I can't begin to explain how excited and scared I was.

My goal had become my reality and frankly, after a few days, it scared the crap out of me.

It's a little bit like joining the U.S. Army on Monday and Wednesday they give you the keys to a Blackhawk helicopter. And they expect you to be able to fly it.

I distinctly remember there wasn't any transition process. They gave me an office on Mahogany Row, and everyone expected me to know what I was doing.

Of course, I always had my best game face on but I still suffered from a lot of anxiety.

So I got the job and now what? Where do I start and where do I begin.

I was promoted within my sales region which meant I would be managing a group of salespeople who were, up to this point, my peers. What could be so tough about that?

Well, if you ever were in the same position I don't have to explain the inherent challenges that you have to deal with.

My boss, the area vice president who had the wisdom to promote me didn't give me any detailed marching orders. And that's probably because when he had the position nobody ever gave him detailed marching orders.

So Here’s What I Did

I didn't attend any sales management classes because none were offered to me. I didn't go out and buy a bunch of books on sales management because I stayed focused on selling.

Plain and simple I just hit the ground running as fast as I could.

So what did I do? I did what most people do under similar circumstances - I improvised.

Here's the formula: Instinct + Intuition = Improvisation

It's the default position for people who don't have access to the acquisition of new skills - in this case Sales Management skills.

What I had going for me was my passion, energy, and unbridled enthusiasm. And some of that trickled down to my sales team – which of course was a good thing.

Okay let’s get down to some traditional advice and contrarian advice on making the transition from sales representative to sales manager.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now.

The first thing I would do differently is ask more questions. Back then I was so sure of myself I didn't think I needed to ask anybody any questions – because I believed I had all the answers.

Unfortunately, the reality is I didn't know what I didn't know. Go read that line again because we all suffer from it.

If I could do it all over again, some of the questions I’d ask my new boss include:

What are your expectations of me for the first 90 days?

How will you measure my success during the first 90 days?

If you could change anything about the other sales managers who currently report to you what would it be?

What do you like most about the sales managers who currently report to you?

What advice would you give a new sales manager based on your experience?

Here's a few other things I would do.

I would enroll in a sales management course - immediately!

I would purchase two sales management textbooks for reference.

I would subscribe to the Wall Street Journal.

Something else all sales managers, regardless of experience, should recognize is the power of the example you set.

I’ve always believed that a sales team becomes a reflection of the sales manager in as little as 6 months.

Be sure you manage your sales team with integrity.

Manage with a sense of humor – I failed miserably in this department.

Manage with enthusiasm and professionalism.

Manage with positive expectations.

When you always expect the best from your salespeople, you’ll seldom be disappointed.

Now you have some guidelines on how to become a better sales manager.

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