If there’s one thing I wish I would have known when I was first promoted to sales manager, it’s this: Gaining respect from a sales team is an ongoing process, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
This is especially true if you’re promoted from within the ranks.
Have you made this mistake?
You’re dizzy with pride over being promoted to sales manager. You arrive at work on the first day as manager, expecting everyone to applaud your good fortune.
But that’s usually not what happens.
Instead, the team still sees you as a colleague, not a superior. And they have no intention of giving up respect.
If you demand instead of command respect, you’re headed down a bad road. The best way to right the course is to proceed cautiously and with empathy.
A Crash Course in Sales Management
On day one as sales manager, here’s what you can do to command the respect of your sales team:
- Get street cred for knowing what it’s like to sell. Listen to your team when they talk about the challenges of selling. Come up with some ideas that solve some of their pain points. For example, if you know that some of the daily reports salespeople have to fill out are a nuisance and don’t effectively enhance the selling process, do what you can do eliminate cumbersome paperwork. Your team will respect you working on their behalf.
- Actions speak louder than words. Get down from your ivory tower and put your nose to the grind, just like the sales team has to, day in and day out. Making cold calls, filling out reports, setting appointments—these are activities in which you can participate that will earn respect.
- Be their advocate. Identify weaknesses in the sales process and advocate for change. If you know that product pricing is too high to meet sales goals, work with management to set better pricing structures to help your sales team succeed.
- Support your team. Set aside time in your day to assess your team’s sales scripts, email templates, and meetings to offer helpful tips and pointers to enhance their results and close more deals.
- Encourage a team atmosphere. Many salespeople hoard their best tactics. Sharing sales tips that work helps the entire team succeed, which in turn helps the business succeed. Set the tone for your team and encourage sharing and you’ll create a cyclical atmosphere that benefits all.
Don’t force your way into respect. Intimidation tactics aren’t effective when dealing with subordinates. Stay on neutral ground. Put on your “part of the sales team” hat every morning, and earn respect.
I promise, it’ll be a smoother process, and a quicker one, too.