How to Navigate Making the Jump from Sales to Management
If you're reading this, you must have been recently promoted off your sales floor into a management role. Congratulations! This article will share with you the five critical things I had to learn the hard way when making the switch myself. First, you need to learn how to get people on board with your ideas and have a strategy for effectively sharing your intentions with them. Second, you need to set goals that the individuals on your team can and will align with.
Getting Your Team on Board with Your Ideas
When you are promoted from the sales floor to the corner office, there are usually more than one of your former peers who is going to feel jealous, resentful, angry, or at the very least, apprehensive to your management abilities. Just yesterday you were peers, and now you're their direct supervisor. It's a dynamic change that is a difficult one to navigate - that's why you're going to prosper by learning how to "enroll" your team in your ideas and initiatives.
Enrollment is easy. All you're doing is providing your teammate with your intentions, in a way that speaks to their goals, ambitions, wants, and needs directly. You start by telling them what's in it for them, why you want them to get on board with you, and ask for permission to discuss it with them. This approach promotes collaboration, trust, and makes your people want to actually work with you instead of working for you. Here's an example:
"Lisa, what I want for you is to feel like you have all the support and tools to do your job effectively, and to know that you work with a manager who has your back and is going to support you in the ways you feel are most effective. I believe if we can clarify those things up front, then we can start our new relationship off on the right foot and avoid as many mistakes on my end as possible. This will make sure your work and career are boosted by my presence, not hindered. Are you open to discussing what that might look like?"
At this point, Lisa understands that you are putting her needs first, what's in it for you, and how you would like to proceed from here. If she agrees to being open about discussing it, then go on and ask some questions about her goals, how she likes to be managed, what she expects of you, and what she believes will create the results she wants in her life and career.
Have a meeting like this with every member on your team, and you'll have an engaged, healthy, and high-performing start to your career as a manager.
Set Clear and Achievable Goals
Creating alignment around goals is a key management skill. If you've never done it before because you've only been responsible for your own goals, the task can seem overwhelming. Most managers, even the experienced, fail to do this properly, so pay attention. The vision you create for your team and how effectively you rally them around that vision will largely determine your success as a sales manager.
Your boss is likely going to give you the company's goals, so your job now is just to determine your personal goals, and the goals of all the people on your team. Here's a shocker: the individuals on your team don't care about management's goals for them. They might as well be written and delivered in hieroglyph for all your people care. They only care about what their job and their paychecks can help them do.
This is your mission: find out what matters to every single one of your people. Write it down, keep it in Evernote or an excel sheet. Memorize it. Every person has a reason for showing up to work. Whether it's to provide for their family (provide what, exactly?), to gain a sense of accomplishment (accomplishing what, exactly?), make a big paycheck (how big of a paycheck, exactly?), become a manager (a manager of what, exactly?), or learn more skills (which skills, specifically?), or a host of other reasons that are unique to the individual, everyone has a reason why.
When you find their why, keep asking questions, and ask how your team expects to accomplish their goal. What daily activities will bring them closer? What will happen if they don't achieve that goal? You can then use these reasons to help them with reaching their own personal goals, which will align them automatically with your company's goals.
If you follow these two processes when you take over your new team, you'll be well on the way to sales management success! You'll have a high performing team who is engaged, on board with you as their new leader, and who have clear goals that not only align with what gets them out of bed in the morning, but with where your new bosses want to take the company as well. And if you can't make a rockstar career out of that foundation, you're in the wrong business.
Speaking of which, are you an ambitious salesperson who read this to prepare for the day when you get promoted?
How far away from that day are you? If you don't know, or if you'd just like some advice from someone who has been there and done that - click here - and let's have a chat about your future.
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