A couple of weeks ago, I wrote advice for newly promoted inside sales managers in my post, New Sales Managers, Don’t Miss Out on This Advice. I focused on three areas of guidance:
Don’t get frustrated if your team doesn’t operate how you did as a rep
Don’t be too nice
Don’t let micro-managing get in the way of leading
Soon after the blog was posted, a friend of mine who was recently promoted to an inside sales management role approached me and said he could really relate to it. When we got to talking, he shared that his biggest struggle as a new manager is dealing with the frustration of his inside sales reps not operating exactly how he did. The main challenge for him, and so many other sales managers out there, is figuring out how to get results by providing guidance and coaching versus wanting to force your exact methodologies on your team.
The thing is, you take on a sales management role because you are a strong leader that has proven himself or herself in the past through performance. Therefore, it is crucial that you share your methodologies with your inside sales reps because it has obviously worked. The trick is finding that balance between coaching and telling them it’s your way or the highway. When I expressed this to my friend, he immediately said, “Great. But how?”
Let’s dive into some specific advice pertaining to this area. I think the key is, don’t do all the work for your inside sales reps even when you are tempted to out of frustration. There are so many examples to use in order to explain this situation, but let’s look at one: Your inside sales reps aren’t passing leads, and upon looking at their usage of your CRM system, you find they are completely disorganized and not setting follow up tasks so opportunities are getting lost. Instead of telling them exactly what they should do, or getting frustrated that they aren’t managing their CRM as you would, ask them to walk through their current process with you. Then ask what they think works well in their process, what they think they could improve on, and how they think they could do that. Get them to think strategically about it instead of doing the work for them (i.e. re-engineering their whole CRM for them). Sure, after you have strategized together you can show them ways they could set themselves up, but let them talk it through on their own first. Over time, they will start to think like this automatically and start creating their own methodologies that work – perhaps they’ll pick up some of your operating methods!
This is all easier said than done. As a manager, often times it’s easy to think “I will just do it myself – it’ll get done faster that way.” Believe me, I have been there, and my boss used to say, “This frustration is your own fault. You have to take the time up front to coach your reps so you can save time in the long run.” This is the best advice I can share because he was exactly right. Take the time to listen and coach your inside sales reps and it will be worth it. Doing the work for them because you want it done as you would have done it, and as fast as you would have done it, is not the answer. Ultimately, the frustration won’t go away by itself, it will just surface the next week when the next challenge makes its appearance.
What advice do you have for new inside sales managers that are struggling with the challenge of frustration when reps aren’t operating as they did?