So You’re the New Sales Manager – How Are You Going To Set The Right Expectations?

Taking Over an Existing Team – Part 2 of 3


This is the second of three posts detailing a few quick tips I used when I was hired to take over a sales team that was ranked last in their region. In six short months, this team became the number one sales team in volume and volume growth, and they held that position for the next fifty consecutive months…


To read the first post in this series, follow this link.


The First Sales Meeting


Like most sales teams, this group held long rah-rah sessions every Monday morning to “fire up the troops.” From what the GM told me, these were often very inspirational, though they never seemed to translate into solid results. Everyone would leave the meeting with great enthusiasm only to come back to the office on Friday reporting sub par sales.


This told me the team lacked an understanding of their goals, clear direction and the support necessary to execute. I decided that my first meeting must not be about motivation, but expectations – both my expectations of them and, more importantly, what they could expect from me. Here is a synopsis of what I showed and told them when I stood in front of them for the first time:


  • What you can expect from me…
    • I will always be fair, open and honest
    • I will check my ego at the door
    • I will always respect you by being on time to our appointments and meetings
    • I will keep my meetings short and informative
    • I believe that those closest to the customers should make the decisions – you are closest to the customer
    • I will never shoot you for making a bad decision provided you made it with the best intentions
    • I believe that “the way we always did it” is not working and we need to find a new way to do things
    • My primary goal is to help you make this company number one in the country – we are currently last in our region
    • You are the only ones who can guarantee we are successful in that goal
    • This will never be about me, it will always be about you – you are the only people in this company who create revenue.
    • If you are not in sales, then you are in support – I am in support and my only job is to make you the hero
    • I will always keep my word and I will always honor your commitments to the customers, even when it costs the company money


  • What I expect from you…
    • I expect you to always be fair, open and honest
    • I expect you to have a healthy ego
    • I expect you to be on time to meetings – if you’re late for our sales meetings, how can I believe you’ll be on time for customer appointments?
    • I expect you to contribute to meetings by having a success story to share each week
    • I expect you to make decisions for yourself
    • I expect you to fail tremendously. This will ensure that you have tremendous successes. Besides, if you’re not failing, then I know you’re not trying
    • I expect you to learn from your failures
    • I never want to hear why we can’t do something, I only want to hear ways we can – In other words, stop putting roadblocks up in front of yourself
    • I expect you to be the number one salesperson in the company – yes, I expect each and every one of you to be number one
    • I expect you to be the hero and to never let anyone in this company, especially me, cut your legs out from under you
    • I expect you to always keep your word to your customers, even when it costs the company money
    • I expect you to stand on my desk and scream at me if I ever fail to live up to your expectations


Their Reaction


Prior to my arrival, this group was always told what to do and when to do it. The previous sales manager was the superstar and the salespeople were his roadies. It was always about him and never about them.


Given all this, you know they were putty in my hands after that speech. J

Of course, this presentation was just words unless I was prepared to live it, and “live it” I did. From cosmetic changes like removing the reserved parking sign for the sales manager to real changes like showing up unannounced to help a salesperson working on a Saturday, I lived the vision I described and the reps took notice. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow’s post, part 3 of 3, will detail a questionnaire I provided to each salesperson at the end of that first meeting. A questionnaire that they were required to complete and return the next day for a scheduled one-on-one meeting with their new support person – me.


The New Manager Questionnaire


To read the salesman questionnaire and the results of these meetings, please follow this link.