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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP237: The First-Time Sales Manager With Mike Weinberg

Thanks for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Many people misunderstand what it means to be a manager, especially a sales manager. This confusion causes many new managers to spend time on things that are unimportant, act selfishly, and avoid difficult conversations. Today we welcome Mike Weinberg back to the podcast to talk about stepping out as an entrepreneur, the pivot new leaders need to make, leading a sales team, and his new book, “The First Time Manager: Sales.”


About Mike Weinberg

Mike Weinberg is a consultant, coach, speaker, and 3-time bestselling author, passionate about helping companies, sales teams, and individual salespeople win more new sales. Mike is now one of the most trusted and sought-after sales experts.


What practical advice do you have for people who want to start their own company or have recently become entrepreneurs?

You have to get in the game. Once you are in the game, you adapt and overcome. I didn’t start my business because it was a lifelong dream. I just wanted to do something I enjoyed. Once I got into the game, I capitalized on opportunities. Your job as an entrepreneur is to steward the opportunities you have and make an impact on your audience and your community.


Q: Do you like to jump in or do you prefer to have a plan before you make a change? How have you approached new opportunities in the past? How could you adjust your approach so that you get more opportunities and make the most of them?


What mistakes did you make when you started your business?

My biggest mistake is not getting out of the way of my own inefficiencies or weaknesses. The downfalls in my business are where I have gaps in my skill set. The biggest mistake was not getting help sooner and finding people with complementary gifts. When I brought in someone who’s strengths were my weaknesses, we began to really grow!


Why did you write “The First Time Manager”?

My publisher came to me and told me there was a need in the market. I decided to agree to write another sales management book because the platform I gained from my first book helped me connect with new people and gain a fresh perspective. “The First Time Manager” is a much thinner book because I was able to narrow it down to the practices that drive results.


This book is for any manager, even senior executives. No one is teaching people how to become leaders and mentors. Your new job in management is nothing like your old job in sales. The front-line sales manager is the most critical job in the organization because you drive the team that creates revenue. When you lose sight of your most productive activities, get stuck in meetings, and do instead of lead, the whole business will suffer.


What are some of the biggest challenges for people who thrive as “individual contributors” when they transition into leadership roles?

When I was a sales manager I was highly qualified yet royally awful. One of my biggest mistakes was trying to change too much too fast. When you take over a new team, you ask questions and get to know the team before considering any changes. Your job is to lead, coach, and hold accountable; it is not to micromanage. Most managers today are overwhelmed because they don’t understand the key to leadership. The pivot from selfish to selfless and winning on your own to winning through others is not taught well.


Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first management role? Who helped you navigate your transition? What did they do to train you in your new role? What do you wish they would have done differently?


Many executives have lost sight of the role of the front-line sales manager and buried them in meetings, spreadsheets, and reports. If you do what they ask, you won’t be doing the things that will move the needle in culture and sales.


Q: Do you think your boss understands your role as a manager? Why or why not? What tasks take up most of your time? How could you draw a boundary to ensure your time is spent on your most productive tasks?


Why is holding people accountable so difficult?

Your number one job is ensuring people do their jobs. Your second job is helping them get better at doing their job. Accountability conversations are often not effective because the manager blends the two. Accountability and coaching are different and should be two separate conversations. Your job is to win and drive results through your people.


I dedicated an entire chapter of the book to holding people accountable. Many leaders move to a performance improvement plan to cover their legal basis before moving on from an employee. I advocate for intervention before this point. When you recognize someone is in a slump, you need to have a human-to-human conversation with them. Voice your concern and your dedication to giving them more coaching and more accountability.


Why should leaders spend more time with their best people?

Your best people are the ones who know what to do with your coaching. They will get you business when you need it! Research shows that managers of the highest-performing teams spent double the time with their peak performers than the managers of the underperforming teams. Your peak performers want your input and will bring you in on the tough conversations and prospects so you learn the business firsthand better. Spending time with excellent, productive people is more fun, you have more energy, drive more business, and will increase retention!


Q: When you were an individual contributor, how much time did you spend with your manager? How often did you receive feedback? How did those two factors affect your performance? What would have helped you perform better or stay at your company longer?


Application Activities:

  1. Evaluate how much time you spend with each of your employees. Do you spend more time with your best, worst, or mid-range performers? Come up with a plan to increase the time you spend with your best employees. If you’re having trouble finding time, invite them to come with you to networking events, keynotes, or trainings.

  2. While you’re evaluating how you spend your time, how much of your time is spent coaching? How much time is spent working on the same tasks your employees are assigned to? How much time is spent compiling reports and sitting in meetings? Once you have an idea of where you are spending your time, evaluate which activities are having a positive impact on your team. How can you eliminate unnecessary tasks or delegate the tasks you used to do when you were an individual contributor? Do you need to draw new boundaries? Write down one step you can take to ensure you are using your time wisely as a manager this week.

  3. Check out Mike’s new book! (If you are not a sales manager, check out the other books in his “First-Time Manager” series.) Go through the book with a friend or mentor and pause to reflect after every chapter. Taking in new information is great, but you will see excellent results when you focus on implementing what you learned.


Connect with Mike:

Twitter: Mike Weinberg


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