How Can We Give Our Sports Sales Managers and Directors the Tools They Need To Grow?

leadership growth

We promote or bring in a new Sales Manager or Director…or even VP.  We put them in their role. And then we wait and see what they do. After all, they are in the role, so they should lead now, right? If they hit the goal, then they must be outstanding and we look brilliant for bringing them in.

Meanwhile, our newly promoted leader feels that they are pretty good. They want to believe our team thinks that they are doing a great job, and they focus on making sure the department hits their numbers goal.  If they do, then they must be a GREAT leader.


But the question is, have you set them up for success or failure from day one? Leadership is not a role that you wind up and let it run.  It takes earning respect, training, development, 1:1’s, and solid planning.  I have often found teams that manage their new leaders on a happy note the first three months, and thereafter through intimidation. This only has a chain reaction, as this is often how they will start managing their sales team. Soon, everyone is miserable.

How can we, as management, help our new young leaders on the path to success? Here are some thoughts, and I encourage you to comment and share yours:

  • Training doesn’t stop when someone is in a management position. One of the biggest pitfalls I’ve seen has been a lack of training or a ‘one stop shop’ for management 101.  Management isn’t learned in one class.  It isn’t learned just by ‘trying things out.’  It’s learned through education and understanding…how do my individual staff members learn? How can I best get my message across in general and to each individual? How can I best utilize their strengths? How can I find their strengths? How can I learn to manage up? How do I learn to manage across?
  • Coach them by teaching them how to let go…and do it yourself.  A micromanaging exec will bring angst to the leader, which in turn will bring pressure to the sales team.  Show you trust them.  Let them use their mind, and most importantly, encourage them to let their staff use theirs.
  • Provide coaching moments.  Coach your young protege on action/reaction.  Coach them through some of the issues they are facing and how actions will cause different reactions. This is a great opportunity for them to learn from you.
  • Provide timely answers.  If you provide timely answers, it encourages them to give timely answers to their staff. If you do not, you set them up from the start to lose respect from their staff.  You are part of the equation.
  • Evaluating your Managers/Directors.  Do you wait for the yearly or twice yearly request sent out by HR or are you truly investing in their growth? If an eval is done once or twice a year, you are throwing things at people they may not have realized were issues.  Everyone should have biweekly 1:1’s and every 3 month evaluations.  With 1:1’s each person should be given something concrete to work on as a leadership tool for the next couple of weeks.  In the 3 month evaluations, more of a project for leaders should be given for them to work on during the next 3 months. This keeps the investment growing and gives them the opportunity to continue learning.
  • Your role should be trusted Coach/Mentor, not best buddy.  Our young sales leaders are looking for someone they can learn from and respect.  They don’t need a best buddy in this role.  Be that coach or mentor and you will find someone who works harder, wants to succeed, and will treat their staff in the same way. This positive learning tool helps show them how to lead their own staff.
  • Talk the talk and walk the walk. Want them to sell more? Sell the product yourself.  Want them to set goals better? Show he/she how you have arrived at the goals you set for them. Want them to communicate better? Make sure your communication is up to par. Lead them through examples.  As the exec, we need to be the example of what they want to strive to be.

I am eager to hear your ideas.  The point is, we are often unfair to our newly appointed managers and directors when we promote them and just assume they will act exactly as the person before them. This is not who they are. Invest in them.  Coach them. Teach them. Send them for trainings. Let them discuss issues with you for guidance.  Give them concrete things to work on and let them learn a best way to do it.  DEVELOP them…let’s not wind them up and hope they run! Let’s give them  the tools they need to grow in this role!

Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating

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Kathy Burrows doesn’t just talk about how to be successful at selling she gives you tools you can use immediately after her sessions proving her methods work. She believes in the creation and fostering of relationships as a way to succeed. The material provided is engaging, inspiring and relevant but best of all Kathy acts as a coach and remains available to you even after the session is over. She is encouraging and motivating as well as always rooting for you to succeed. I recommend companies that require their employees to sell, whether in sports or not, invest in their people by bringing Kathy out for a session.” -LMetcalf, Chicago Wolves


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