Moving from salesperson to sales manager can be complicated. A great salesperson may be able to bring in big numbers, but a great sales manager must know their team and be able to work with each person's strengths and weaknesses. They must also perform administrative duties and keep up with quotas. To do all this and succeed, it's important to know each of the four stages of transitioning from a doer to a manager.
1. Helping and Learning
When you first join an organization as a sales rep, your primary responsibilities are to learn the company and develop relationships with co-workers. You must also perform at a high level when completing the core tasks required of you. Some sales people stay in this stage for many years, either with one or several different organizations.
2. Contributing Independently
Sales reps who develop a healthy track record for getting results are primed to enter the second stage. While Stage One sales reps are still in the learning phase, Stage Two reps have become experts, and they consistently perform at a high level and garner the head of an organization's attention and respect. Candidates for sales manager positions are often chosen from this group, and this job comes with additional responsibilities. Higher expectations are also set by top-level managers. A common problem here is that many sales reps get comfortable once they reach Stage Two. They are rock-star performers, and they're usually well-paid and feel valued and respected. At this point, it is the individual's responsibility to understand the benefits and risks of remaining in this stage indefinitely; it is the organization's job to provide ample support and training based on the individual's goals and capabilities.
3. Contributing Through Others
While great salespeople often achieve personal milestones faster when they work alone, a great sales manager must work well with others in order to succeed. In Stage Three, you transition from focusing on your individual goals to leveraging the skills of others to meet common organizational goals. At this point, you also assume responsibility for the success and failure of your team. Therefore, it is imperative to develop the right attitude and skill set within that team, because the better they perform, the better you look. A consistently successful sales team allows the sales manager to grow and can lead to even more opportunities within the company.
4. Shaping Organizational Direction
While sales managers can create very successful careers without ever moving beyond Stage Three, there are a few who strive to have a greater influence within their organizations. These sales managers help influence a company's high-level decisions and directions. The most successful of these managers typically move into C-suite executive roles.
It may seem like a natural transition to go from star salesperson to excellent sales manager, but in reality, takes practice and finesse. Not everyone needs to strive to be a Stage Four sales manager; the most successful companies employ a healthy mix of sales personnel from all four stages.
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