New Sales Leader Checklist

It happens all the time. A top sales producer gets promoted to management. There is no sales leader development program. He doesn’t know where to begin. His head spins.

The roles of sales executive and sales leader are completely different. They require a different set of skills. This New Sales Leader Checklist will provide direction and ease the transition.

1. Create a fun and energizing work environment/culture where salespeople will thrive and fulfill their dreams
2. Create a clear and inspiring vision and mission
  • This should rally the troops, make them excited to come to work, make them feel like they’re part of a mission
  • Example: The John F. Kennedy moon-launch speech given in 1962 (“By the end of this decade, we will land a man on the moon and fly him safely back to Earth.”)
3. Identify the structure and goals that will make the vision and mission a reality
  • In broad terms, how are we going to make this happen?
  • What will the sales force structure be?
  • What products and services will we have to sell?
  • What are the roles and expectations of each salesperson?
4. Have a plan to make plan
  • What are the specific activities and tactics each sales executive must do to achieve his sales goals and make the overall vision/mission a reality?
  • How will the sales executives do account and territory planning?
  • Number of sales calls per week?
  • Factored sales pipeline expectations?
5. Measure, inspect, and manage the business
  • Identify key sales and business metrics that need to be measured
  • Communicate these clearly to the sales team
  • Measure and hold people accountable (“People don’t do what you expect, they do what you inspect.” Lou Gerstner, Jr., former CEO, IBM)
6. Hire, lead, manage, and motivate the sales team
  • Hire the right people
  • Model the behavior you want the sales team to emulate
  • Coach, guide, motivate
  • Know each person’s communication style
  • Know what is important to each person (what motivates them — professional and personal goals; emotional needs)
  • What incentives will best motivate the sales team?
  • Annual Winner’s Circle?
  • Special bonuses (e.g. Product-based? Monthly? Quarterly?)
  • Commission?
7. Establish a clear and repeatable sales process
  • What is the sales process?
  • How will you ensure all sales executives know it and follow it?
  • What coaching aids will you and the sales team need?
  • Do not make the sales process overly complex
8. Train the sales team
  • What sales training do they need and how will you deliver it?
  • What product training do they need and how will you deliver it?
  • What other training do they need to excel at their jobs?
9. Equip the sales team
  • What account and territory planning tools will be required?
  • What administration tools do they need? (CRM, laptop, etc.)
10. Eliminate distractions for the sales team
  • Streamline the sales process
  • Block “corporate noise” so salespeople can focus on their jobs
  • Don’t bog salespeople down with unnecessary administration
11. Leave salespeople “no bush to hide behind”
  • Eliminate excuses (“I don’t have good products.” “My territory is too small.” “The economy is bad.”)
  • Inspire them to perform at the highest level
  • Hold them accountable
12. Marketing: How will you “soften the battlefield” for the sales team?
  • What marketing activities will have the greatest impact?
  • What lead generation activities will be needed?
13. Know your customers
  • Keep an ear to the market
  • Have a set of key customers you keep in regular contact with
  • Go on joint sales calls with sales executives
  • Make customers feel valued and appreciated
14. Products and solutions: Help shape the product/solution mix
  • Listen to customers; Synthesize feedback (good and bad)
  • Identify trends in the market
  • Prioritize most important product issues and opportunities
  • Give feedback to the product team (Top priorities only. Do not overwhelm)
15. Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Set your priorities, communicate them (over and over), and keep reinforcing them
  • Establish a regular communication rhythm
  • Let people know your schedule and whereabouts
  • Keep people informed
16. Constantly improve
  • Have annual learning and development goals
  • Take classes
  • Read
  • Seek advice from those who have walked the path before
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