How to Nail Your First 90 Days as a Sales Manager

Now you’re a sales manager—congratulations! Next up: Your first 90 days on the job.

This is an exciting but nerve-wracking time. To hit the ground running, you need goals and a plan for executing them. To help you, we’ve prepared a planning worksheet for new managers. You can use this worksheet to map out your first 30, 60, and 90 days as a manager.

Here’s a month-by-month guide for how managers should approach the first 90 days.

The First 30 Days

During your first month as a sales manager, focus on learning core knowledge and start cultivating relationships with your team members.

1. People and Relationship Building

Successfully managing the people on your team sets the groundwork for everything else in sales. To that end, you need to devote effort towards relationship building right away. Don’t just assume that it will happen naturally.

Make a list of everyone you need to meet. This list should include not only your team members, but also other sales managers. Consult that list periodically to make sure you’re on track to introduce yourself to everyone (at the very least) by the end of the first month.

As you start to meet team members, take note of their communication preferences and other characteristics that might be helpful in building a productive relationship. You should also start to assess their skills so that you have a sense of what you can expect from them performance-wise, and how you might coach them towards improvement.

In addition to cultivating individual relationships, start thinking about how you’re going to build camaraderie among the entire team. You might host an informal social event so that you can get to know everyone in a group setting.

2. Product Knowledge

Develop a plan for how you are going to start acquiring product and industry knowledge. The education you received as part of your onboarding is a good starting place, but as a manager you need to go deeper.

To avoid having this fall by the wayside, block out time in your schedule for product education. Potential action items include sitting down with a member of the product development team and reading industry publications. Ask your team members and other managers what they found most helpful when starting out.

3. Process Understanding

Before you can implement new ideas, you need to develop a thorough understanding of the sales process at your company. At this stage, you want to prioritize the most important aspects of the sales process. Don’t try to dive deeply into everything. Some ways to learn about the sales process are:

  • Talk to team members about their process. Ask them to discuss specific deals.
  • Observe sales calls and demos from your team members.
  • Become familiar with the CRM system and other software tools.
  • Identify what metrics are most important to your team.

Days 31-60

Once you enter your second month as a sales manager, it’s time to start scoring some quick wins. You should conduct an in-depth examination of core processes and start to strategize how you want to manage.

1. Sales Process Audit

You’ve learned how the sales process works in theory. Now you can assess how the sales process is working in practice. Consider how well processes are working and how they might be improved. Sales operations and sales-marketing alignment should both be included in your audit.

To gain this knowledge, have frank conversations with your team members. Make it clear that your intent is not to punish them for kinks in the process, but rather to figure out how to better align the sales process with the actual needs of buyers.

2. Pipeline Management

Now you’re in a better position to evaluate how well deals in the pipeline are progressing. Come up with a game plan for how to help the existing deals progress further, using what you’ve learned about the process, product, and customers.

As you approach the end of your first quarter on the job, start thinking about your sales forecasting. Even if you don’t yet need to produce a forecast, determine what method you will utilize.

3. Training and Standards of Performance

Take a broad look at your team and try to determine how you can enable all of them to better succeed. Identify where the skills and knowledge gaps are and start brainstorming ways to fill those gaps.

You should also assess how well the standards of performance are working in terms of encouraging sellers towards success. Are the standards clearly communicated to your team members? Do they incentivize top performance and consistent improvement?

To help with your assessment, examine your top sellers, middle performers, and below-average performers. Ideally, your training and performance standards should enable all three groups to improve their performance.

Days 61-90

Once you reach month three, you can start to deploy what you’ve learned and set a new course for your team.

1. Define and Measure

You’ve gained familiarity with the metrics used at your organization. Now you’re in a position to evaluate how well those metrics are meeting your team’s needs. Consider:

  • Are you measuring what you need to measure?
  • How is your team setting targets, and are those targets both ambitious and appropriate?
  • What behaviors are your metrics incentivizing?

If your metrics aren’t serving your team, implement new metrics and methods.

2. Building the Roadmap

To achieve your revenue goals, create a plan for the next year, broken up into quarterly increments. Identify what strategic objectives must be achieved for your team to meet revenue goals.

3. Develop Strategy and New Experiments

Synthesizing everything you’ve learned about your team and the sales process, start developing a long-term plan for how you are going to drive revenue growth. This may include training initiatives, procedural changes, new performance standards, and anything else that addresses your team’s current weak spots.

Attempting too much change at once is usually a mistake. But by the time you reach the three-month mark, you’re ready to start experimenting and implementing your own ideas to guide your team towards success.

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James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.