Sales Managers: Avoid These Six Mistakes In Your First 90 Days

Sales Managers: Avoid These Six Mistakes In Your First 90 Days

Chris Orlob
August 3, 2022

If you're a sales manager starting a new job...

This is is the most important thing you'll read all day.

Here's why:

Your First 90 Days Will Make Or Break You

I wish it weren't that way.

But it is.

Think of the first 90 days like "wet clay." And you're shaping a vase.

You have an opportunity to shape your new role while you still can.

But once it's dry... it's going to be hard to change.

I need you to "get" the importance of nailing your first 90 days.

So let's talk about the risk and rewards.

The risks of "missing" your first 90 days:

  • Lose trust & credibility from your reps, peers, and boss.
  • Gobbled up into middle management obscurity.
  • Chalked up as “not upper management material”
  • Damaged reputation.
  • Managed out.

Want some good news?

Your first 90 days is an opportunity.

With some big-time benefits if you nail it.

The rewards of "winning" your first 90 days:

  • Fast-track your career. Big time.
  • Build an amazing internal reputation, fast.
  • Get talked about in executive meetings.
  • Get labeled as “high potential”
  • Snowball effect: the rich get richer. More opportunity.
  • Higher-income.


Before you learn what to do, you have to learn what not to do.

In this post, you're going to learn..

6 Mistakes to Avoid In Your First 90 Days

And guess what?

Awareness is the cure for all of these.

All it takes is knowing what NOT to do.

Let's get right into it.

P.S. before you read on, I have a 90-day "action plan" coming in the next few weeks.

It goes beyond the mistakes and into the step-by-step action plan.

Get updated by entering your email here:

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New sales managers are desperate to make an impact.

Which is great!

But it drives you to act chaotically.

Desperate to make a quick impact, new sales managers jump to random acts of execution.

Instead of building a focused plan.

So what do you do instead?

Build well-defined priorities and a focused plan of attack.

That's the right way to start your new role.

Imagine you're a rep again.

And you get a new boss.

And she immediately starts upending a bunch of things.

Q: Are you on her side?

A: Probably not.

Here's some GREAT advice I got during my first 90 days in one of my sales leadership roles:

Morbid, sure.

But useful.

There is a "yin yang balance" to driving the right amount of change early on.

Striking that balance is tough.

Here's the best "roadmap" for driving change I've ever known.

It served me well.

And it will help you understand "how much" change to drive, and when:

Onward to mistake number three.

You should join customer calls when you start.

A lot of them.

But the role you play matters.

Talking over your rep, dominating, and leading the conversation?

Classic new manager mistake.

Play a support role instead.

Too many new sales managers take over and dominate their reps sales calls.

That comes from one of these five (misplaced) mindsets:

  • A desire to impress
  • A desire for quick revenue
  • A desire for control
  • An inability to allow you reps to make mistakes
  • A lack of trust in your reps.

These all lead to the same road:

You being domineering instead of an inspiring leader.

Here are the five bad things that happen when you do this:

Not good.

So what do you do instead?

There are four key principles to joint sales calls with your reps.

Act accordingly:

Let's get to mistake number four.

It's a counter-intuitive one.

Nothing wrong with revenue.

That's your job, after all.

But trying to deliver a sharp increase fast?

That focuses you on the short term at the expense of the long term.

You'll become a super-salesperson instead of a true sales leader.

An unhealthy desire for delivering quick revenue will drive you into that hole.


Plus, it gives your boss the wrong expectations.

It can take "a while" to get the drum beat going.

If you telegraph to your boss that they can expect a big uptick fast...


I pray for you.

Let me tell you a story.

We hired a new leader to run a segment of our org at Gong.

We'll call him "Loren."

He was smart, and ambitious.

He spent his first 90 days building a kick-ass new playbook for that segment.

It was truly bullet-proof.

He rolled it out to his team.

And they adopted it! It was a masterclass in change management!

At least... within his own team.

Here's where things went south:

He didn't communicate with his peers

Total silo.

None of his partners knew he was doing this.

It was extra bad, because he was running a post-acquisition sales group.

So his team worked closely with other teams, like customer success and professional services.

So, his reps "let 'er rip" with the new playbook.

Their account teammates?

They had no idea this was going on. And it created an uproar.

A total mess.

Everyone complained that this team was doing something new, with no heads up.

Loren handled the damage control well. But he dug himself into a deep hole.

He left before his first year anniversary.

Spent that year trying to climb out of the hole.

I can't help but think  his career would be different if he communicated.

The moral?

Schedule weekly 1:1s with your cross functional peers.

Make them aware of what’s going on in your world, and changes your driving.

And become aware of theirs.

Write this on a sticky note:

Boss's hate surprises.

Good and bad.

Yes, even the good.

Surprises of any kind make them feel out of control of their world.

And that means bad news for their relationship with their own boss.

When I first became director of sales at Gong, I was guilty of this.

The first 90 days are critical for expectation management.

They will shape your relationship with your boss.

When in doubt, over-communicate.

  • Weekly 1:1s
  • Daily Slack updates
  • Talk constantly

"No news is good news" does not apply here.

Exactly What To Do In Your First 90 Days

I'm sure you noticed something about this post.

It was heavy on what NOT to do.

That was on purpose.

Your first 90 days are fraught with risk.

So it's important to know the mistakes to avoid.

That said...

I have a 90-day action plan coming soon

It's "part II" of this post.

I'll teach you exactly what to do in your first 90 days.

Not just what NOT to do.

You'll learn what to day on Day 1...

Day 30...

Day 60...

All the way through Day 90.

It's truly a roadmap for success as a new sales manager.

So here's what I want you to do:

Subscribe via email to the newsletter.

It's free.

And you'll get the update as soon as the 90-day action plan is live.

It's coming very soon.

Make sure you don't miss it.

It could make the difference between a year of success...

And a year of digging yourself out of a mess.

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