By Kim Staib, Published October 22, 2014
Next month marks an important milestone not only in my career at AG, but in my career in general. This October I will have completed my first year as an inside sales manager. It has been a busy year at AG, with many new faces, new clients, and new challenges, as I transitioned from making calls to managing those who do. A few years ago I wrote a blog outlining lessons I had learned after one year as an inside sales rep, and I am glad to reprise that entry to now include lessons from a management perspective.
Lesson 1: Learn to prioritize your tasks.
The first lesson I had to learn was about balance. One of the most difficult parts of this job has been balancing the time I spend dealing with client tasks, internal operations, and training tasks. As an inside sales rep, I only ever had one or two clients at a time to for which to dial and strategize. When you become a manager and add ten more clients to that equation (and 15 or so direct reports), time management and prioritization are the key to being as efficient as possible.
How to do this? Stay organized! I keep track of the performance of all the reps on my team on a weekly basis and meet with them as much as necessary for them to succeed. Also, when my reps know that I have an open door policy, it’s easier for them to seek training and advice whenever they need it.
Lesson 2: Delegate, delegate, delegate.
On the client side of this balancing act known as Management of Client Operations, it has been a huge learning experience for me to learn how to delegate and to ask for help when needed. I have always subscribed to the “If you want something done right, do it yourself” mindset. Unfortunately, I found that this point of view can be a hindrance for success as a manager.
I have accepted (however difficult it may be for me) that part of being a manager means delegating client tasks to the right inside sales rep, which not only empowers them but also allows them to acquire new skill sets and think more critically about their client and performance.
Lesson 3: Sales training should be fluid.
Another lesson I have learned is that everyone is unique in how they like to be trained. After some trial and error over the last year, the answer to the question, “How am I going to consistently provide training for my reps?” became simple.
Let them dictate the training!
I am a huge advocate of the theory that “desire dictates development,” and putting training in the reps’ hands allows me to get a feel for their level of engagement in the job, what they think their strengths and weaknesses are, and what valuable insight they can provide to me that will help make client engagements more successful. A brief agenda and a calendar evite is all they need to send and I am on their time, happy to help with whatever they need to hit their goals.
Lesson 4: You will influence your sales team – for better or worse.
Finally (and probably the biggest lesson I have learned) is that your inside sales team’s morale will mimic your own. The more stressed out I am, the more stressed out my team is. If I start expressing frustration with a particular client, the inside sales rep echoes that frustration. As a manager, I want to be a source of positivity and support for my team, and that means doing my best to check any negative emotions I have at the door, a task that at times is easier said than done. I enjoy coming to work every day, and if I portray that to my team it is bound to rub off on them.
One year in and I can guarantee that the learning won’t stop here. Lucky for me, I had great managers who have now become even better mentors as I navigate my way through this role. My main goal moving forward is to continue to strive to be a reliable and responsive asset to my client, and an affable, accessible, effective manager to my team.