Picture this: for a number of years, you’ve been a consistent sales producer. One day a sales management job opens up in your company. You truly deserve the position–you are regularly the company’s top-producing salesperson, and have won numerous award and received accolades from upper management. You go ahead and apply for sales manager, and win the job based on a great attitude and, of course, your previous performance.
Three months into your new position it doesn’t feel so good. You’re regularly thinking,
“Did I make a mistake?”
This regret can possibly be attributed to a steep learning curve, stemming from the fact that sales management has a totally different skillset than that of a salesperson. Or it might be simpler–you might just realize you made the wrong career choice.
Before taking a sales management position, I highly advise that you ask these questions. The answers will really help you decide if you’re making the right choice.
1. Is training and coaching something you enjoy doing? Teaching and training may look like fun–and it certainly can be. On the other hand, it can also be tedious and require endless patience as you conduct role plays and drill skills with your team. Salespeople are like well-trained athletes. They have to run the plays over and over until they become second nature, enabling the salesperson to execute under stress. There is a saying, “Infinite patience produces immediate results.”
Instilling new habits and skills takes time, effort and patience.
Do you have the patience to develop people?
2. How comfortable are you holding people accountable? As the sales leader, you must make sure your sales team is engaging in the right activities and number of activities needed to create a full sales pipeline. My philosophy is that a salesperson can always do the work because they control how much effort they’ll extend. If a salesperson isn’t doing the work, effective sales managers are willing to have a tough-love meeting.
They aren’t worried about being liked. Their concern is helping this individual achieve their full potential — or find a job where they can do so. A professional selling career isn’t for everyone.
3. Do you enjoy analyzing numbers and data? Sales managers are charged with analyzing sales forecasts, conversion rates and win-loss analysis, capturing trends and working through mounds of big data that needs to translate into relevant data. Wing-it sales management doesn’t work in a sales organization, so if analyzing data doesn’t rock your boat, then stay in the individual sales producer boat.
Everyone has a special set of talents.
Apply the EQ skill of emotional self-awareness, and ask yourself the tough questions to assess your strengths AND motivators before applying for that sales-management position. Companies need strong leaders and strong sales contributors.