Most entrepreneurs want to grow their businesses from within, particularly if they have strong employees who have been with them from the very beginning. Promoting existing employees who understand the company and know what works can help teams achieve their goals and make it easier for business owners to focus on other ways to enhance the firm and focus on other business objectives.
However, a company leader can't merely promote a top-performing salesperson and expect them to enhance the team without receiving any training. Even the most motivated and friendly salespeople need performance coaching before moving into a management role, and it's essential for small-business owners to know exactly how to help these individuals develop their management skills before thrusting them into a position of responsibility.
There are several key points to keep in mind when training a new manager, especially one relatively inexperienced with supervising teams or providing feedback to a large group of sales professionals.
Talk Through the Transition
After offering a high performing salesperson a role as the company's first sales manager, a business owner should immediately start the training process. One of the most important aspects of this initiative is communication - establishing expectations, sharing concerns and developing business processes is essential. If an entrepreneur doesn't effectively get his or her point across, accurately explain the responsibilities and the parameters within which the newly promoted employee can undertake their role, a new manager may come into a position completely unprepared.
Asking a top performer who is being promoted to enhance communication skills helps the entire team. By carefully listening to concerns and challenges new sales managers face, business owners can adjust their training strategies to focus more on problem areas and ensure the promotion will be a success and that results will be achieved. Becoming more practiced at explaining concerns and issues with a leader will also help a new manager gain more experience communicating problems to his or her team in the future.
Consistently communicating issues will also help a new manager develop the verbal skills necessary for even greater sales effectiveness. A sales manager may be called in to deal with a particularly tricky client or help a team member with a presentation at any moment, and continually improving speaking skills will help a sales supervisor prepare to cope with these situations and still clearly get their point across.
Address Managerial Control Issues
If a new sales manager has no experience in a supervisory position, he or she may take some time to learn how much control they need to exert over their team(s). This can be particularly tricky if the salesperson being promoted was the strongest member of the team and they are on friendly terms with the people they are now managing. New managers may be hesitant to deliver constructive criticism, follow up on poor performance or push their teams to do more, especially if they still consider themselves part of the sales team and continue to socialize with co-workers outside of the office.
However, it's not unusual for the opposite to occur when an extremely high performer is suddenly promoted and expected to manage a sales team. A new manager may expect every salesperson to perform as well as he or she did and lack understanding when members of the team lose sales or come in under quota at the end of the month.
Ensure They Understand How the Company Functions
Salespeople may have a basic idea of how their department operates at the highest level, but because these issues don't normally concern them, they may not have a full understanding of the operations. A business owner promoting one of these team members need to be certain they understand how the sales department - and company as a whole - works from top to bottom. Comprehending how an enterprise is run can help a sales manager make the most of opportunities even when they don't specifically relate to his or her department, something that can enhance an organization's prospects for the future.
Asking a newly promoted manager to shadow an entrepreneur for a week or two can help ensure they have a firm grasp on all operations, and a complete understanding of the sales department. Spending so much time on this also gives new managers the chance to ask all relevant questions, learn the names of key vendors and discover more about clients they may not be familiar with.