How To Implement A Smooth Manager Transition

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In a previous post, we talked about many of the significant aspects of a general transition of sales to management. We talked about having focus and balance, among other things. Now we would like to talk about the actual successful transformation. One thing I like to say to people faced with a challenge is–

“Success is not an accident.”

Of course, there is another just as truthful adage–

“Failure is not an accident.”

Nothing happens by accident–it happens because you caused it to happen. Therefore, you must have a plan for success. I prefer the thought of a plan for success instead of a plan to avoid failure..

When you become a manager you take on several jobs. Unfortunately, in most industries you add these jobs to the ones you are currently performing. These include jobs such as “personal” production. In essence, you have doubled your time requirements without much guidance and/or training. So how do you deal with this dilemma?

You must have a plan. This plan should start with goals for results and the actions needed to achieve these results. If you start your day trying to accomplish what you usually accomplish and just “add on” the management functions, all other aspects of your job performance will suffer. This will be a recipe for disaster.

The plan must start with goals. In our last segment we discussed the importance of prioritizing. It is imperative that you decide which goals are the most important. For example, today you must take care of a fire within your personal production. There is also an employee that is causing a problem in the office. Which of these two are you going to tackle first?

Well, the fire makes more noise and demands immediate attention. So we will usually gravitate to this task. It is not that we can ignore this task because closing transactions puts food on the table. And the problem employee will be there tomorrow. Unfortunately, the problem employee will eventually cause their own major fire–a fire much greater than the one caused by a single transaction. For example, what if the “problem” causes three other employees to resign? Now you are faced with replacing three employees and there are even more demands placed on your time. This starts a vicious cycle.

Therefore, your plan must contain priorities for all aspects of your job functions. It must recognize what must be accomplished tomorrow and also what must be accomplished in the long-run. That plan must have an allocation of time that is commensurate with achieving the goals you have set. If you don’t spend the time and energy, you won’t achieve the goals. It is that simple.

The plan is comprised of more than just immediate “actions.” The plan must also have activities that will improve your results in the long run. For example, having a mentor and/or buddy can help you tremendously. You are not the first to face these challenges. Speaking on a daily or weekly basis with someone who has faced or is facing the same types of challenges will be invaluable to you. You won’t get better at implementing this plan by accident.

Education should be part of the plan as well. There is plenty of training for those who are selling, but much less training for those who are managing sales forces in specific industries. Recruitment, assessment and coaching skills are not innate–they are learned. Once again, they are not learned by accident. One skill that is essential for sales managers is public speaking. Being an excellent public speaker is rare. This is a skill that will help producers–but help managers even more. There are far too many managers conducting sales meetings that are completely ineffective because the manager either did not plan a great agenda or can’t implement the plan because of their delivery skills. Once again, success is not an accident. You will not develop great public speaking skills without training and practice. Make it part of the educational plan.

A typical plan for a transitioning manager might include–

  • Long-term objectives
  • Short-term actions necessary to achieve these objectives
  • An educational plan
  • Work with a mentor or a buddy on an “every-week” basis
  • Bench marking with other managers through informal groups or associations

Together, these steps will increase the chances that the transition of sales person to manager will be successful. Success comes with a plan.

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