Preparing For A Sales To Manager Position

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It happens in just about every top sales person’s life. They are successful. They are making a lot of money. What is the next challenge? The sales person considers either a promotion to sales manager or considers opening up their own “shop.”

Other than having tons of experience selling, is the person “qualified” to become an owner or manager? What qualifications are important? Here is the bad news:

There is little direction and help for those who want to make this transition. It is sometimes assumed that a person who is successful in sales will succeed at anything they do. It is also assumed that these super sales pros can show others how they succeed and somehow others will be successful under them by osmosis. Both of these assumptions are quite false.

There is good news as well. With direction, the new manager/owner will find that the same characteristics that made them successful as a sales person will help them in their new endeavor. The purpose of this article is to enumerate a few of these characteristics, as well as how they may be applied.

Communication. The art of proactive communication is essential for sales and management success. As a sales person, great communication is essential during the sales process and especially during the process of servicing the customer. What about management?

In interviewing hundreds of sales people looking for new companies, the number one complaint I heard from these prospects was lack of communication from their companies.

Meetings are held and rules are promulgated when something goes wrong. The key is being proactive. What are some specific examples of proactive communication?

Examples of proactive communication include letting the employee know what their job entails. Setting standards is essential because employees can’t succeed unless they know what is expected of them. Another example of proactive communication includes keeping the employee informed about the goals of the company. Making them part of the overall picture helps them find a sense of accomplishment in their jobs. We could go on and on about communication–but I think you can see the larger picture at this point.

Balance. Here is a great challenge that is faced by just about every sales person turned manager. The personal production is what fueled the transition. And the personal production is not about to go away. However, the personal production is a full-time job. Now the manager/owner must recruit, assess, coach, train and more. How can you balance three or four full-time jobs?

The same way you balance bringing in more production vs. servicing your present customers. The solution here will be the application of a combination of solutions, including adding production aides such as a production assistant and implementing important time management and “synergy tools.” How can synergy help? The manager/owner may select activities that will help them produce, recruit and lead–all at the same time.

Focus. Top sales people are typically experts in the act of focusing. Those who try to be all things to all people wind up serving no one well. When the sales person moves to management, adding several full-time jobs makes focusing even more important. The manager must do an even better job of paring down unproductive activities. These unproductive activities may include such things as dealing with high-maintenance customers or managing high-maintenance employees.

Vision. Great vision and quality production go hand-in-hand. Top producers see opportunities every day that others miss. Great vision helps managers become leaders. Why? They know what is important in the long run and they stay focused in pursuit of these goals. Every day they prioritize their activities. Successful people spend time on important tasks. Those who are not successful spend their time on mediocre tasks. It is vision that tells a leader what is important and what is not important.

Making The Transition. Recognizing what will make a manager successful will certainly help someone plan the transition–or help them elevate their performance if they are already in a management/ownership role. But it does not assure success. Success will come from hard work and a plan. Do not try to go it alone–get help. That help could include training, mentorship, benchmarking and more. We will discuss these topics in greater detail in the next segment.


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