The Biggest Mistake a New Sales Manager Can Make (and How to Avoid It)

September 13, 2016 | Steven Rosen
The Biggest Mistake a New Sales Manager Can Make (and How to Avoid It)

Steven Rosen: The Biggest Mistake a New Sales Managers Can Make (and How to Avoid It)

I’m often asked to help newly appointed sales managers prepare for their new roles. What I’ve learned over the last 15 years coaching these new sales managers and executives is that there is one mistake many new sales managers make that can be the difference between success and failure: Building trust is the essence of leadership and the foundation for becoming a successful leader.

It might sound simple, but it’s very challenging when transitioning from sales rep to sales manager.

Sales managers start their new role halfcocked. They want to prove themselves immediately before laying down the foundation for success. New sales managers meet their sales people and immediately want to talk about business. They want to get up to speed about their reps’ territories.

This is understandable, as new sales managers are now responsible for an entire team’s success, not just their own.

Related: Sales Leadership & Coaching: Keys to Igniting Productivity

In the new sales managers mind, they feel that since they were a super rep, they can fix their team’s issues immediately. The manager’s reps know the drill because every time they have a new sales manager they are asked the same questions.

There is plenty of time to talk business but the beginning of the sales manager’s tenure is not the time.

When the new sales manager begins their role, it’s time to let your salespeople know you care. When I became a Vice President of Sales, I was told:

“People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care.”

I realized that this was the key to establishing myself as a leader. People didn’t care about my successes, my vision or plans. They wanted to know that I cared about them as people.

Here are three simple steps to build a foundation of trust in the first 90 days on the job:

  1. Get to know each of your sales people.
    1. Find out about their family:
      1. What’s the names of their spouse and kids?
      2. How old are their kids?
      3. What are their kids’ interests?
    2. Get to know them:
      1. What is their background?
      2. What are their hobbies?
      3. What are they passionate about?
      4. What is their favorite sport/team?
    3. Get to know what drives them:
      1. Why do they get out of bed every day?
      2. What motivates them?
      3. What are their aspirations?
  2. Let them get to know you:
    1. Openly share things about yourself
    2. Talk about your family, dreams, hobbies and motivations
  3. Show love and compassion

Once you’ve established a relationship rooted in trust, you can begin sharing your insight, knowledge and coaching. You can begin building your team and become a great sales manager. Remember: “People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care.”


Steven Rosen (@StevenARosen) is hosting a free sales leadership training session - The Ultimate Sales Leadership Strategy for High Performance - on Sept 15th at 1:30 p.m. EDT. You can also download a copy of the new STAR 2016 Sales Manager Report.

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