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When You Are Promoted To Sales Leader

Congratulations on the promotion! You were a stellar salesperson meeting deadlines, closing deals, landing big accounts, so your company promoted you to sales leader in hopes your charms would rub off on your team. But the role isn’t as easy as you thought. Here are five things for you to know when you are promoted to sales leader.

Your Role has Changed

Once you're promoted to sales leader, your role isn't selling. As a result, there is a fundamental shift that many first-time leaders don't immediately grasp. As a sales leader, you now need to focus on hiring, training, coaching, and developing your team.

An efficient and profitable sales team is the product of many strategic decisions like who you'll hire, what you'll pay them, how you'll onboard and train them, and more. When done well, your sales team won't just accelerate your company's growth but, they will enrich your company's culture.

You'll Need to Stop and Assess

Maybe your sales team is fine the way it is. Maybe not. How can you tell? You will want to assess your sales team. Having productive one-on-one meeting is an essential part of understanding where each person on your team is at. You will want to start by learning about how they are working today, what roadblocks they may have, and what they need from you. You will also want to be identifying any gaps in their performance by analyzing the scorecard.

When you stop and assess your team, you are able to spot strengths that can be leveraged. In addition, look to find opportunities where there are gaps in skills, and work to develop them.

Remember, a team is only as strong as its weakest member. As a sales leader you are always improving your team, whether it’s developing the current team or adding new talent. Keep a bench of qualified candidates and continue to be on the lookout for new talent.

What Motivates your Team

According to Gallup, "What's more, research shows that leaders and managers are accountable for 70% of employee motivation and happiness.”

Salespeople are just as motivated by rewards and recognition as any other employee. Of course, monetary rewards are significant, but they're not the only way to acknowledge an individual who works hard and succeeds.

According to Tiny Pulse, "When asked what leaders could do more to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied, "give recognition." Other ways to reward and recognize your team include time, recognition, group outings, education, training, different gifts, and more.

Once you know how your team is motivated, you can use that to keep your team engaged and retain talented people.

Learn how to Communicate up

One of the most common pitfalls with salespeople who are promoted to sales leaders is not communicating up effectively. You may want to appear like, "I've got this," and sometimes, you absolutely do.

Sometimes you may be holding on to valuable information without knowing it, because you haven't had a conversation about what your boss needs. Or you may want to hold out until the "news" changes until it's "better." Unfortunately, bad news does not get better with time. Sales leaders who are prepared with the relevant information their boss needs are invaluable.

Your number one priority should be to ensure that your boss and your team have all the information they need to support you, and for you to support them. When everyone is communicating, you build trust, prevent or resolve problems, create better relationships, increase engagement, and more.

Your Words Matter

When and who you communicate to is just as important as how you communicate. According to Smarp, "3 in 4 employees see effective communication as the number one leadership attribute. Yet less than 1 in 3 employees feel like their leaders communicate efficiently."

It is so easy to speak without thinking. But not so easy to genuinely listen and connect with people. When words are used in the wrong way, it can be devastating. Words can either motivate or deflate thoughts and actions.

Words have the power to excite, inspire, frighten, anger, or give encouragement, what you say matters. It shapes your work culture and relationships.

In The End 

Being promoted to sales leader comes with many challenges, but if you keep in mind that your role has now changed from salesperson responsibilities to developing and accessing your team, you'll be in a better spot. Also, keep in mind what motivates your team, communicate clearly to your boss, and weigh your words.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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