From diapers to deals: the similarities of new parenthood and sales management

Becoming a new sales manager is similar in key respects to becoming a new parent, says Laney Pilpel, director of customer success at AG Salesworks (AGSalesWorks.com), a B2B teleprospecting and marketing services firm. (Laney was eight months pregnant with her first child, a boy, when she blogged about these similarities in December.)

“The excitement and anxiousness of impending parenthood is similar to some of the emotions associated with taking on the duties of managing a sales team. You are overwhelmed with congratulatory remarks and can’t wait to move forward to the next step of your career,” Pilpel states. “At the same time, you think to yourself, ‘Oh crap! I hope I am good at this! What if I am bad at it and my reps don’t respect me?’ ”

She offers these tips for new sales managers:

•  Don’t get frustrated if your team doesn’t operate how you did as a rep. Be open-minded and understand that everyone has their way of getting the job done. If they aren’t as organized as you, or if they don’t make as many calls as you did, just remember that you are in a management role for a reason: to provide guidance and coaching to make your team better. Work with your reps and don’t force your methodology on them, but do coach them with it and show them how it will help them succeed. You will be surprised at how they adopt your methodologies while respecting you at the same time.

•  Don’t be too nice. Odds are you are in the position you are in right now because you are a nice person that everyone likes on top of having a go-getter attitude. While you should use this to manage a high performing team, just remember to hold your ground so you don’t get walked over. If one of your reps is underperforming, give him a warning. If someone is consistently showing up late to meetings, call her out. You have to walk the fine line of being liked while also making sure you are meeting and exceeding the goals that your boss has set for you.

•  Don’t let micro-managing get in the way of leading.
Sometimes a little micro-management is necessary when goals aren’t consistently being met, or if you have an employee that you just need to keep an extra eye on for various reasons. However, what is more important is that you gain respect from your team by hearing them out before pointing fingers and scolding them for not hitting their numbers. For instance, when you see low activity numbers or goals not being hit, ask them to help you understand what obstacles are getting in the way and ask questions that will lead them to think strategically about the situation. Try to offer them tools like special reports to help them in keeping on track to hit their goals instead of being overbearing about it.