I often hear candidates tell me that they would like to move from a sales rep position to a sales manager position but when I ask them why, they are unable to articulate why.
I have also heard that the best reps do not necessarily make the best managers. There are no hard and fast rules but there are some guidelines to help you discover if you would do well and enjoy being a sales manager.
1. Higher purpose-what drives the sales rep to want to be a manager? A great sales manager must have a higher purpose. It can’t be about dominating others. It has got to be about helping others succeed. If you take pride in seeing others soar, it could be the job for you.
2. Great communication skills- this is not just about “showing up and throwing up” the information but about showing reps what’s in it for them. As a sales manager, you’re still selling but now your audience are professional sales people.
3. Self awareness-this has often been described as a part of emotional intelligence. In the ever changing business world where your customers and your reps are heterogeneous, a great sales manager will appeal to each one differently. This means that you know yourself, know your different team members and manage to their strengths. And while you’re at it empathy is important.
4. Likability factor-we cannot underestimate a person’s likability. People work for and with people. A sales manager’s job is made that much easier if their team members like and respect them.
5. Self-confidence- you have got to have a self-confident air about you. Let’s face it, people want to work for people who are confident and are going places.
6. Organized-you now have to manage more than just yourself, provide answers and feedback to many other people and all in a reasonable time frame.
7. Healthy humility- a great sales leader does not take credit for their players wins but is able to sit back and feel great knowing that you contributed.
8. Leadership-one of the best definitions of leadership that I have seen is “process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”(1)
9. Driven to succeed-you must want to win and want others to win because it needs to be contagious.
10. Must love learning- if you are curious and want to improve your skills, be around people who can teach you and see learning as something you do for yourself rather than a task, then sales management might be for you.
11. Team player-need I say more. If you are a loner, you need not apply.
This is by no means a perfect list but it’s a beginning. I have heard sales management described as mothering, therapist and babysitter. If you do not like doing these kinds of things then think twice before applying for that management position.
1.Chemers, M. M. (2002). Cognitive, social, and emotional intelligence of transformational leadership: Efficacy and Effectiveness. In R. E. Riggio, S. E. Murphy, F. J. Pirozzolo (Eds.), Multiple Intelligences and Leadership.}