In my sales career I’ve had the privilege of leading several sales teams that had excellent performance after being an individual contributor when I started my sales career.
Which do I prefer?
I actually enjoyed the role of a sales account executive more than management.
Not everyone is cut out for the role of manager.
I loved working with customers, crafting deals, making presentations, and hunting for new business. I guess you can say that for me, “It’s the thrill of the hunt” – the competitive environment of sales.
Many times, the person they promote into management is the top salesperson. Why? They assume they would make a great manager, but that is not always the case. I believe the number one skill needed for both roles is “Emotional Intelligence.”
Because both sellers and leaders are managing multiple relationships. Up and down the chain of command. Building trust with prospects and clients.
If you aspire to management, there are some key factors for you to consider.
First, you must learn to deal with conflict. A manager needs to assess the performance of everyone on the team, and then manage the expectations you set based on their performance. Some are easy to deal with and others can be more challenging.
In addition to managing your team, you’ll have to work across the company with other teams and leaders. Understanding the administrative side of how your company works is critical. To succeed, sales managers need to be efficient and productive at using the internal systems of the company.
Another important skill you’ll need to master is how to supervise your teams’ pipeline and make judgment calls on the reality of your team’s forecasting ability. You need to assess who on your team is overly optimistic, who is pessimistic, and those that are pretty accurate. The sales manager is responsible to upper management for the accurate assessment of the team’s business generation.
Management is a balancing act of managing your people, working the administrative side of your company, handing the internal issues with your salespeople and customers, and making the right decisions on customer opportunities. A strong sales manager is great at problem solving and understands where to spend their time to have the greatest impact. It’s a position that is not an eight-hour day. In my opinion, it’s all the time and often spending time after hours with your salespeople and clients.
Lastly, a strong manager must be an excellent communicator. They need to communicate sales strategies, expectations, and updates to their team, as well as collaborate with other departments and senior management.
Managers earn respect from their salespeople when they are direct, to the point, and at the same time considerate of others, offering empathy when needed. I believe in being tough on the matter at hand and considerate of the person involved.
The sales manager has a lot of responsibilities and a lot of influence on their team. Great sales managers have minimal turnover in the long term. When a team is stable and consistent it impacts the customer’s attitude towards the company and the relationship that is formed.
Consider these points as you assess whether sales management is for you.
Here’s to great selling.