When taking on a new sales team or inheriting an existing one, it is important to set expectations immediately upon taking on your new assignment. As a sales manager, your sales people need to know that you are going to be a good leader, and a good leader takes command right away.
In setting expectations for your team, there are two approaches you must take. First, you must meet with your team as a group and let them know that your expectations are of them as a team. It is critical that each person hears what you have to say together so there is no misinterpretation of what you say. Make sure you also put your expectations in writing so the sales representatives have something to take away with them.
Secondly, you will need to meet with them individually to discuss individual expectations. This is a great time to get to know them better as individuals, so a meeting outside the office is usually best. Take them to breakfast or lunch so you are both in a neutral area and can avoid typical office distractions such as the phone or unexpected visitors.
Next, to set expectations for your team that work well, it is just as important that you ask them what they expect of you as their new manager. Both in a team setting as well as in an individual setting, it is important that they have the opportunity to share what they expect of you. It is critical that you take the time to listen. In listening to them, you will learn a lot about their personalities and about past bad experiences they may have had with previous managers. In listening to them, you will also become a better leader.
Overall, remember that expectations go both ways. Setting expectations for your sales team and learning their expectations of you within the first 2 weeks of taking on a new sales leadership assignment is critical to your success as a sales manager.
Creating Vision for Your New Sales Department
When you take on a new sales department, or have determined that it is time to revamp your existing one, there are many things to consider. The most important key to driving continued sales success is to develop a strong vision for how you intend to drive revenue through your sales professionals and sales managers.
Current Situation Assessment
Take a look at your current situation and take note of how you got where you are. Make a list of the successes and the mistakes, and compare the lists. How did you achieve your successes? Map out that pattern and keep it as you begin to determine what you want to accomplish next. With the mistakes, you will want to figure out how those mistakes were made so you can move forward and be certain that you do not make those mistakes again.
Future Vision Planning
Once you have mapped out the successes of the past, the next step is to figure out what is next to accomplish and conquer. Make a list of all the milestones you wish to hit-really brainstorm to ensure that no ideas are left on the table. To more effectively create your future vision, incorporate your sales leadership team. They will be instrumental in helping you determine where you want to go next, and it will be easier to obtain their buy-in later if they have helped create the future sales vision.
Once you have all the ideas out, go back and prioritize according to those that are easiest or may be quickest to achieve. Begin mapping those against an 18-24 month timeline so you set the benchmarks in place that will keep you tracking on the path to success.
Take a close look at the resources available to you and your sales team. Do you have the tools to get there? If not, begin brainstorming to see what tools will be necessary to ensure you are able to meet the benchmark sales goals you have put in place. If you find that new or upgraded resources will be needed, incorporate that into your vision, keeping in mind your budget.
Some things will be easier to implement than others, as they may be tools already available within your organization. Others may have to wait, which may require you to go back and revisit your benchmarks to determine how realistic they against your budget.
Do your people have the skills necessary to help you achieve your vision If not, what type of training will be necessary to ensure they are on the same page as you in achieving the vision? If you believe you can bring your staff up to speed with an effective training program, determine in which areas training is essential, and work with your training department to create a training program that will develop the skills necessary.
If it is determined that training will not help, you may have to take more drastic measures, such as identifying fresh talent to bring on board in alignment with what you hope to accomplish. If that is the case, you will need to work with your HR department and training department to ensure that you follow legal methods through which to accomplish this.
Overall, creating a sales vision for your staff is more than writing a vision statement on a board. It involves identifying resources, talent, drive, and incorporation of your key leaders to make it work. Once you have created the final vision for your sales team, and you have determined that it aligns nicely with the corporate vision as well as keeping in mind how your marketing department will be impacted by what you do, communicate the vision clearly to your team and use that as your guide to drive revenue. With your sales team behind you, all driving toward the same vision, you will have less attrition, a stronger team, and vision accomplished!