Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The first 90 days of a new sales manager

After years of recruiting sales managers for the firms I worked with, I noticed some common traits.  The new guy is somewhat at a loss of what direction to take in the first two weeks or so upon joining the firm.  So he would spend this time going through reports, documents, customer lists and maybe the debtors' list to see how serious the receivable accounts are.  In the midst of it all, he would call for a staff meeting to get some feedback but more than not, he would initiate systems (if any) from his previous company to the new one and would expect everyone to adhere to it.  Resistance starts to build and he would be wondering why are the staff working against him?  His superior would probably take him out for lunch during this period and starts to enquire how he was coming along in his new environment, and he would reply, "OK", which is not in most times.

So to help some new sales managers along, I have some suggestions which you could probably put into practice during the first 90 days of your work.


  • Travel with your salespeople to appraise their performance.
  • Sit down with each salesperson to get them involved in your team.
  • Set your expectations of acceptable sales behaviour and results.


  • Continue the one-on-one visits to your salespeople to encourage them to be contributing team players and keep them on track.
  • Be ready to get rid of those who aren't living up to your written time frames and expectations.
  • Stress the value of call reports in sales forecasting, building customer databases, and developing market and competitor research.


  • Lay the ground work for long term motivation efforts by questioning and observing your sales people.
  • Stay in tune with your sales people's changing environment, not just in the first 90 days but over the long term.

In fact during the entire 90 days, the sales manager must spend a considerable amount of time to get to know the staff better. Ensure your communication skill is at  its zenith as you will be dealing with staff who could have been with the company for a long time and would resent the idea of a new boss telling him what to do. Therefore, communication has to be tactfully handled. You are the manager, be firm, but at the same time understand the limitations of your staff.  One thing is for sure.  You are there because of your experience and skill.  The staff will hence look up to you for advice and guidance.  Demonstrate your ability to do so.

One issue not to be overlooked is the setting of standards for the staff, a subject I will dwell on in the ensuing postings.  Remember, poor performance reflects poor standards, and standards differ from industry to industry.  The call standards I set for my staff who were selling club memberships differ in totality compared with my staff working in the bank.  Once standards are set, display them in the general area of the company where everyone will now know what is to be expected from those who are in sales.

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