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YOUR FIRST 90 DAYS AS A BRAND NEW MANAGER - DIAGNOSING SOME CHALLENGES

Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

Picture this – it’s the last day of a tough, tough quarter. You and your young sales team are just one contract away from reaching your target, and your pipelines have been completely exhausted – except for one out-standing option. The CEO of a prospected company has agreed to speak with one of your junior sales consultants again in 15mins. Anything can happen, and team target hangs in the balance…

Do you:

a) Handle this important call yourself? You know you can close this and the team will be glad to reach target after the rough quarter we’ve all had. The team can practically start breaking out the celebratory beers and bubbles now!
b) Let the sales consultant handle the call? The CEO is a good guy, and if he has agreed to talk then he knows the game. It shouldn’t be too tough and could be a good notch in the new salesperson’s belt, and encouragement for the whole team too.
c) Let the sales consultant talk the talk – or rather talk your talk? You’ll be with him/her every step of the way, scripting and directing the conversation to make sure the team gets the positive outcome they deserve.

If you answered A:

You have followed your natural sales instincts – and rightly so! You weren’t promoted to manager because you couldn’t sell. You’ve got the charm, the persuasiveness, product knowledge, solid value propositions – and you know how to close and perform under pressure. The company recognizes your sales ability and pays you well to bring in the cash; especially in times like this. That’s what they promoted you for!

Or is it? As a sales manager you have been recognized for your sales skills, but it’s on how you replicate this pattern of success that your management performance will be truly measured. Yes, your sales skills will probably carry the team’s success for a while. However the sustainability of business overall is not based on a number of successes but on creating a method for success that can be duplicated, thereby enabling a company to leverage its talent. The benefit for you in duplicating through your team, as opposed to doing it yourself is that it 1) directly proves your ability to develop others 2) manages yourself out of your current position by expanding the eligible talent pool, leaving you free to rise to new heights, and 3) allows you to multiply your resources and achievements through your team. If your success formula only operates in a silo, you run the risk of becoming a liability; to the company and to your own career. It’s imperative that your decisions as a leader reflect a good balance of your commitment to your people as well as your goals. Be careful not to own the show!

If you answered B:

After all, leadership is about encouraging growth and independence, and you exhibit great willingness to let your team spread their wings and experience and learn things for themselves.

You may also, unbeknownst to yourself, seem to exhibit a great willingness to risk the success of the team, after a long 3 month fight. Adult learning principles will tell you that adults are self-directed, motivated, and ready to learn, amongst other things. But personal experience will tell you these aren’t all strictly true, and certainly not all of the time! Giving a team member this responsibility prematurely can jeopardize the task, and create a perception that you aren’t willing to assume leadership and responsibility at the most critical moment. Your intentions are good, so how do you ensure that your rationale is good and the motive clear? One powerful, constructive way to guide your decision to delegate, and HOW you lead in this instance, lies in assessing your salesperson’s ABILITY and WILLINGNESS to close this call. Just as in a closing call it can be very much about the timing – your leadership legacy is about adapting the right guidance on skills and development at the right time. The critical word here is ADAPT!

If you answered C:

With this method, short of an electric surge cutting out most of the city’s electrical grid (touch wood) you are guaranteed a positive outcome, and have taken steps to ensure that your team members can get a taste of the action. They’ll be sure to remember this feeling next quarter, and you’re sure the ambitious ones in your team will be more encouraged and less fearful of the close after this, especially the person who received your tutelage this time!

Definitely possible. The trick would be to ensure that your team takes ownership of the success of this call, and does not attribute all the success to you. Otherwise, rather than building a strong team you end up fostering a culture of resentment and dependence – suddenly nothing seems to get done without you! There are many ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen, including appropriate recognition, using adaptive leadership to set up the right platform leading into the call, and so on. Also to ensure the right outcomes from this experience i.e. that your team develops and becomes empowered from your guidance, pay attention to their style of learning. Every person has a distinct way in which they learn best, be it via visual, auditory or kinesthetic stimuli. If your consultant is a kinesthetic learner, great! If they were visual or auditory, they may experience the closing call in a blur, and recall very little constructive points from the experience later.

The best answer is really D: all of the above.

How you assume leadership of your team depends on the situation, and this scenario reflects a small snippet of the complexities in the sales environment. However sales, and management in general, is made up of many decisions like this every day, and our habitual responses to these occasions will determine our brand of leadership. How CONSCIOULSY AWARE are you of your actions as a leader? And therefore how readily are you able to adapt and improve?

Structured leadership training always helps as you start your journey as a new manager, no matter how great your sales and people skills. Naturally, if in doubt of the right remedy, or if problems persist please see a training professional for a solution for your sales and management team.

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