If you’ve decided sales leadership is right for you and you’re ready to get noticed for management, this blog is all about answering the question, “How Do I Get Promoted to Sales Management?”
Here’s where to start:
1. Go talk to your Manager (or another Manager or Director if you don’t love your boss) immediately about your desire. It goes something like this:
“Could we talk about a career path in our next 1:1? I think I may be interested in Sales Management and I’d like your input, your advice, and your help if you think it’s appropriate.”
We call this “raising your hand.” It does NOT mean you think you’re ready now. It does NOT mean you think you can do it better than he/she can. It means, “I’m interested. Please help.” This is a critical first step because you’ll get nowhere without internal support.
2. Find at least one internal advocate. This is a work mentor who gives you feedback and advice and assignments to help you grow. Equally importantly, they are your voice in the room when you aren’t there.
Trust me, at some point every promotion decision comes down to a group of leaders in a room saying, “So, this person or that person?”
You need a person in that room who can give your sound bite. Sound bite? Yup. You, like all great products and services, will have an elevator pitch. The 1-2 sentences that sum you up as you are seen by your peers, team, and advocates. Don’t leave that to chance, start helping all 3 groups get to know you and the kind of leader you’ll be. That brings us to the next point.
3. Go get to know people. Three groups: your peers, your leaders, and yourself. Build some rapport, have some coffee, pick their brain, get some advice, offer some help. Find a reason and work on building a bridge with one new person a month. If you’re feeling most comfortable doing this with your peers, then start with your leaders. You must get comfortable hanging out with executives, so start now. These are your people! You’re just as amazing…they’re just older! 😉
Did she really mean yourself? Yup. This is critical. The toughest people to manage in my entire career were because they had a skewed vision of themselves. Do a behavioral assessment, take a values quiz, go to therapy. The more you know and let yourself off the hook (you perfectionist, you), the more you’ll be able to meet your future team where they are, get along with peers, and not hijack your career due to some personal hot buttons. (Hot buttons are your own baggage that make you overreact in stressful situations. We all have ‘em, honey, so find yours and slap a nametag on them and own them; it helps.)
4. Get control of your time. Like fast. Nothing will ruin your sound bite faster than being the guy who doesn’t turn things in on time, no-shows for meetings, or is always promising but never delivering. You’re picturing that guy in your life right now, aren’t you? We all know one. Don’t be that guy! This is why we created the “Own Your Sales Management Day” course and ALWAYS put it in the first three classes for clients. We need to move you out of reactivity and into proactivity ASAP because proactivity is where you shine. That’s you being in charge of your day and what you get done, not succumbing to the whims and pressures of the world. Your ability to organize, delegate, schedule, push, and delete the stuff that doesn’t matter is what will create the time and space for you to rise.
You managing your time is what will create the time and space for you to rise.
5. Start training. Management is a whole new set of skills. You wouldn’t move from BDR to AE closing without studying how to demo and close, right? Don’t think for a second the move to management is just a natural transition either. (Sorry).
Even as you continue to rise up the ladder, the transition from Rep to Manager will remain your hardest change.
It’s time to drop our closing skills, our competitive streak, our natural speed and adorable sales style. This is a whole new bag. And in it we have to put better listening skills, patience, planning, delegating, organizing, and coaching. Be clear, it’s a big bag. You want to start filling it right away. Look for tactical sales management skills, because “Being a Leader Coach” is NOT the same as how to conduct a tactical call coaching session. Leadership theory has its firm place (so inspiring, new ideas!), but it’s the hard job skills that will make or break your first year. Nobody will look to you to inspire the next generation if you can’t conduct a basic sales huddle.
If you know leadership is right for you, but aren’t sure how to get promoted to sales manager, then join me at our next boot camp! Our Sales Management 101 Boot Camp is a 6-week virtual training program for new or aspiring sales managers that blends e-learning and live training sessions and teaches the tactical skills you need to thrive as a sales manager!