One of the things that we get asked the most about at the Sales Management Mastery Academy, especially by those members that are in sales but want to get promoted into sales management and move their career forward and start managing and supervising other sales people is, “How do I actually get promoted?”
This is something that we do cover inside of the academy for our paid members.
I thought that it would be a great idea to do a show about it today because we have gotten many questions on it recently. A couple of interview requests online have asked the same question as well.
For the New Year of 2011, we wanted to give you 6 killer tips on how to get promoted into sales management if you are a sales person right now. If you are a sales manager now, this is something that you may want to advise your ambitious sales people on. One of the roles of a sales manager is to find out what their career goals are. You, as a sales manager has the unique opportunity to mentor and assist those sales people that have the potential leadership qualities that may be a good candidate for sales management or maybe some other position within the organization that you work for. So this applies to you as well.
6 Killer Tips to Get Promoted To Sales Management
The greatest sales people in the world don’t always become the greatest sales managers.
Just like the greatest baseball players don’t necessarily make the greatest coaches. Or maybe the greatest football players don’t necessarily become the best football coaches. Nonetheless, in order for you to get promoted, you do have to catch the eye of your superiors, in this case your sales manager, or your boss’s boss, or maybe the GM, or VP of sales.
The best way to do that as a sales person is to excel in the sales role. It is not necessarily a pre-requisite for great sales management, but it certainly puts you in a tremendous position to succeed. Anything that you can do to increase your effectiveness as a sales person, and continue to produce results consistently, year in and year out, quarter in and quarter out, whatever the timetable is for your organization, it will certainly get the higher ups in your organization to stand up and take notice and think, “hey maybe this is a person who potentially could move into management at some point in time. He certainly knows how to sell; maybe he could pass this on to the sales people in his charge once he gets promoted.”
Number 1 is to excel in your current sales role.
Volunteer and initiate
Someone told me these very early in my career; to take on new responsibilities. Do things that the average person just isn’t doing.
Maybe there is a sales meeting coming up and your sales manager is probably creating 4 or 5 different presentations, maybe he/she is looking for creative input on the agenda. The best thing to do is to approach him/her and ask if there is anything that you could do at the next sales meeting. Maybe doing a case study on one of your successful sales calls, or how to prospect, or maybe an in-depth discussion on a particular product and how you are using that to sell more effectively, or maybe something like a targeting strategy session that you spearhead, something like that. The first thing that I did when I wanted to become a sales manager in a very small organization is that I would always ask my sales manager what I could do. He said that he wanted me to do something on a ½ hour on something that I could make up. If you have a sales manager that is willing to let you do that, the obviously he trusts you and has faith in your judgment. I chose a topic called “Micro Opportunities: How to Make the Best of Your 2 Minute Sales Call”. I did it in about a half hour. It didn’t necessarily lead to my promotion, but it showed that I was ready to take on the additional responsibility and/or maybe a supervisory position.
Did that one initiation help me get promoted? It certainly didn’t hurt. Because I did well in that first presentation, and I prepared for it quite extensively, he gave me other opportunities to do other things in the organization that definitely led to my promotion. If you are a sales manager, encourage your people to do this, it will lighten your load at a sales meeting. Who doesn’t like another presentation done by somebody else?
But if you are a sales person looking to enhance your own visibility and put you in a position to be promoted, this can be a great tool.
Use your sales manager
This is something that a lot of people don’t do. Maybe they feel that their sales manager will take it in the wrong way, but it is important to tell your sales manager that you are ambitious and that you want to become a sales manager and move into the next role.
Ask them to be mentored. Talk to them about your goals and ask for honest feedback. Ask, “What do you think that I need to work on for better ability lead other sales people? What do you think that I should do?” Solicit their feedback.
Use your sales manager, they are in is in a position that you want to be in, so ask them quite frankly, “What do you think my areas of opportunities are? What do you think I need to work on?” Then, on the Monday call in ask, “Hey were there any challenging sales management problems this week? Can we talk about them without breaching confidentiality with the other sales reps? Maybe we can talk about them in a case-study format?”
Use your sales manager.
Get to know people within the organization
This isn’t brown nosing. This is just a good way of doing business. Get to know as many people as you can within the organization, especially your sales manager. Also get to understand them. Get to know your sales managers boss.
Then, what a lot of sales managers neglect, get to know the other sales managers in your organization. Use the regional sales meetings as an opportunity to chit chat with them at the bar. At a lot of organization, they use the input of other sales managers, not just the direct sales manager, but other sales managers and they ask “hey what do you think of this guy/gal for the sales promotion in Chicago?” Sales manager, not just your sales managers could have influence over your position; get to know them. This will certainly put you in a good position, so that you have credibility and character references. Obviously if you’ve done well in number 1, others will see that you’ve done well in your sales career, so why not give them this opportunity.
Get to know people in your organization.
This seems like an obvious topic, but a lot of sales managers and people forget about this. They think as soon as I get into the role, then I’ll figure out learn how to become a manager, but it is better to start getting educated first.
Figure out what your role and style are. Sometimes the best way to do this is to think of certain sales/management situations and think about how would I handle that if I were him/her? Think about what your style is. If you are very friendly, open, and gregarious, maybe then that is your sales style. If you are more serious, direct and to the point, maybe that is what your style is. Figure out what your style is and then pick up education, and take some classes.
Another idea is to join some paid membership sites as well, such as The Sales Management Mastery Academy; it is a good way to pick up ideas on motivating, leading and coaching people.
You can even use that as a reference in your interview saying, “I have taken all seven courses in the Sales Management Mastery Academy and this is how I am preparing myself”. Something like that is very effective.
There are hundreds of sites, and I encourage you to look at them all. This is certainly something that could prove very effective. You will show that you are serious and that you have done your homework if you have thought about how you would handle certain situations, and you have identified your sales management style.
Through the academy we talk about the practice being more of who you are and not some other management style because your sales people will see through that very quickly and you’ll become an ineffective sales leader as a result.
Visualize how you would handle future situations
If you do the education and then you start to think, you are talking to one of your cohorts, and they are explaining a challenge. Instead of giving them advice, think about; “How would I handle this situation if I were the sales manager? How would I like it to be handled?”
You may not know how your friend is motivated or how best to coach them, or how best they should be led, all of these things that you will learn, but you can start to think about how you would handle the situations, using some of the education that you have picked up, or using some of the books you have read, or using information from sites you have visited, or through bogs you have visited, so by visualizing how you would handle things, in advance of them happening, that is really how you are best prepared for them.
Granted once you become a sales manager, you are going to come in contact with situations and experiences that are new and that you have never encountered before, and every day you will see things that you have never seen before, but you can relate these experiences to other experiences that you have had. By visualizing things in advance it helps you prepare for situations that will occur once you are handed that opportunity to be promoted into sales management.