Starting A New Job is Like Getting a New Pet

Lolita, RIP

Back in 2015, our two cats died of natural causes within a few months of each other. We had rescued them 13  years earlier from the swamps in South Florida. They’d been with us through 7 relocations, 8 jobs, 3 dogs, 6 surgeries (theirs and ours) and a bunch of adventures.

Willow, RIP

One day, a few months later, I came up with a “brilliant idea” that I’d trick my wife into adopting a new cat.

I told my wife we needed to buy a new leash for Snickers from Petsmart.

When we were in the store, I just happened to wander over to look at the kittens they had for adoption. Then I just happened to play with one for a few minutes until my wife couldn’t help but come over to see it.

Half an hour later, we left the store as proud owners of two adorable rescue kittens. (At this point, I am congratulating myself for being so clever).

Lilly and Buster, our new little troublemakers

By the end of that same day, my wife and I were wiped out. We had spent the entire day setting up accommodations for our unexpected new family members. We scrambled to figure out litter boxes, introduce them to Snickers (who was not the least bit happy with these intruders), feed them and play with them.

Of course, the kittens were not tired at all. From the time we tried to go to sleep until early the next morning they:

  • Raced around the house making Snickers bark
  • Pounced onto the bed to attack our toes under the covers
  • Ran across our faces playing chase tag

And Buster, our younger kitten, seemed to have developed a taste for eyelids. To be more precise, she licked our eyelids for hours throughout the night, whenever she was not scampering across our faces.

When I got out of bed the next morning, I thought to myself:

  • “Oh my god, what did I get myself into?”
  • “Things aren’t what I expected!”
  • “This is much harder than I thought it would be!”

I no longer was congratulating myself for being so clever for tricking my wife into getting 2 kittens.


Whenever I start a new job, no matter how excited I am, at some point during the early days, I have the exact same thoughts* about the new job!


What to Do if You are Starting a New Job (or Leading a New Team)

Day 1  

Meet with your boss to determine what his priorities. They may be different than what you we told during the interview process. Here are some priorities that I’ve been given:

Don’t do anything to screw up our Q4 close. Make no changes until January.

Fix our declining revenue trend. We’ve had 3 quarters in a row of declining sales.

Increase the number of qualified Opps handed to the field sales team.

Meet with any managers who report to you to determine “Do you have the right sales manager?”

Week 1

Meet with your team. Within the first 2-3 days, I like to meet with my entire team to introduce myself, let them know why I was hired and to let them know what to expect from me. I’ll provide a little personal & business background, tell them to expect a 1:1 with me in the upcoming week, and explain what I’ll be doing over the first few weeks. The team will be watching you closely as they try to “figure you out and what you are up to”. I prefer to simply tell them .

Meet with your management peers in other departments who interact with your sales team. An easy way to do this is to get a list of everyone who reports to your boss or your boss’s boss. Ask them these questions:  What do you do here? How do you interact with sales? What do you think of the sales team? Do you have any recommendations for improvements to the sales team or any guidance for me?  

Dig into the stats and metrics. Look at Bookings, Pipeline, Leads and conversion percentages. Chances are some of this will be incomplete (or nonexistent). That’s ok – you are establishing your starting point.

Meet with Finance. You need to understand how revenues are counted, how quotas are set, what deadlines impact sales, how contracts are negotiated, etc.

Review the CRM and sales processes. How is forecasting being done? Is there a consistent sales process? Is outbound prospecting working? How about closing?

Schedule your meetings. By the end of the week, have 1:1s with your direct reports scheduled and your weekly sales meeting scheduled.

Update your new boss. At the end of the week, I like to debrief and discuss my findings with  him. He will be able to help provide feedback, guidance and critical background information.

Week 2

Meet with every rep on the team. See this post for how I like to do it.

Draft your plan of action. I like to break my plan into People, Processes, and Systems. Most of the time, my priorities fall in that order as well.

  1. First, we must have the right people on the team.
  2. Then we need ensure we are following good lead generation, qualification, prospecting, closing and forecasting processes.
  3.  And finally, we want to equip our teams with the right software and hardware so they can sell effectively. This includes: CRM, sales automation tools, quote templates, collateral, demo capabilities, dual monitors, headsets, etc.

Be sure to include a timeline for your plan. For some hep, check out “How Long Will it Take to Ramp Up Your Sales Team?”

Present your plan to your boss. Solicit his feedback and make any necessary changes.  Ask if you can present it to his direct reports in the next staff meeting.

Present your plan to your sales managers.  If you have managers reporting to you, I recommend presenting them the plan before rolling it out. Now is the time to get their buy-in and get their commitment to support it.

Present the plan to your sales team.  Be prepared for some questions but avoid debating the merits of the plan. You were hired to lead this team. While the feedback from your reps is important, keep in mind that some reps will resist any changes to the status quo. Hold your ground and don’t get caught up in a debate.

Week 3

Make it happen. Now it is time to execute. Use the 3 Big Rocks method to help prioritize your activity and you will be surprised by how much meaningful work you can accomplish in a short time.

Enjoy the journey.

*Well, maybe not the exact same thoughts. My kittens kicked litter out all over the floor and also created an unimaginable amount of cat poop. We solved this by using the Cat-It litter box. Fortunately my cats have since settled in to become great family members and sound sleepers. Even more fortunately, I never had to resort to the Cat-It solution with any of my sales teams nor have any of my reps ever tried to lick my eyelids.

If you want some help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you. 

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