How to Succeed as a First-​Time Sales Manager

BY C. Lee Smith
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Jennifer Gluckow, founder of Sales in A New York Minute, knows a thing or two about sales. She’s also a first-​rate manager with plenty of street cred. When she was placed in a sales management position, she quickly learned how to motivate her reps. Here’s what she shared with us about young and first-​time managers in her recent Manage Smarter podcast.

Immediate Feedback

It’s always great when your younger reps make a sale. But, they need you most when the sale doesn’t happen. When you, and they, are first starting out, make sure they discuss their disappointments with you. These sessions allow you to point out what they could have said or done differently. The discussions also give you a chance to boost their ego, so they don’t get lost in negativity.

Mind the Age Gap

Long ago, presidential candidate Dan Quayle questioned the suitability of his opponent, Ronald Reagan, based on age. Reagan scored huge points, and went on to win re-​election, after he famously turned around the challenge by saying, “I am not going to exploit for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." If you’re much younger than the team members you’re supervising, be prepared to feel some heat. “They’ll seem nice and friendly, but they’re totally judging you,” remembers Gluckow, who was in the situation of supervising much older sales reps. You don’t have to form deep personal friendships with your team members. You just need to get them to do their best. To earn their respect, and cooperation, Gluckow quizzed her team members on what mattered to them about the job. Once she tapped into their emotional connection to the job, it was easier to convince them to work with her and make quota.

Make a List

Most sales managers have been reps. They’ve suffered under managers who were rude. Or, they’ve put up with constantly being handed the worst assignments. Or, they’ve had to figure out how to succeed on their own, because their manager couldn’t be bothered training them. You don’t have to be that kind of manager. Gluckow made a list when she first started managing people. She wrote down the traits of the best managers she had and made sure she emulated them.

If you want to start your management career on the right path, consider doing the same.