Sales Manager-In-Training: Are You Made For The Next Step?

Promotions are great!  Added perks, a new title, maybe a little more square footage around your desk. Oh, and then there’s the added responsibilities, possibly having to manage multiple team members around with specific tasks and tighter deadlines. It’s a bigger sea change, but the rewards and satisfaction of knowing, “Hey! We really nailed it and I was part of that!”, that makes it worth it.

But only if you’re ready.

Like yesterday’s blog post stated (in all its March Madness glory), there’s always going to be different ways to view employee performance when a promotion comes calling: they’re all hard workers, but some like where they’re at; they’re excelling, but don’t have all the skill sets yet; and they’re the cream of the crop, but may be a bit impatient and feel a different challenge should land on their desk every day.


So let’s say your number’s called to go from sales representative to sales manager. A great honor, indeed, but just like any bump up in a department, there’s a bit of unknown with what lies ahead. You must ask yourself a few questions before the green light comes on.

Do you miss frequent flyer miles?

Are you ready to change work routines?

As a sales rep, you probably enjoyed many coast-to-coast flights to conduct business with clients. Or you drove all over the place and still had a cubicle at headquarters, but rarely ever made it behind the desk for more than 2 hours a day? And while there are going to be different tasks for different sales representatives, many will still travel.

But that may all change with a promotion to sales manager. Training your mind to get used to being more stationary than usual can be an adjustment for some. George Clooney couldn’t do it in Up In The Air. Maybe it’s not for you, either. Thing is, you’re still going to get the occasional commute or air travel as a sales manager, but a majority of the time might be split with delegating leads and assignments for other sales reps to do the hustle and bustle instead. Or maybe you're juggling the same travel schedule alongside delegating everyone. However it's presented, it’s about getting adjusted sooner rather than later to new work habits and new responsibilities.

Are you ready to learn a new trade or two?

You could be a cold calling master. Your people skills are so legitimate, that you could sell your product to a tree stump...and his extended family of tree stumps. Whatever trade it is, just know that you’re gonna have to learn more skills to really hit the ground running.

Because times change. Technology gets more complex. The word “multitasking” transforms into some new moniker that sounds like you need a Superman cape or Wonder Woman crown to navigate the waters smoothly. Nevertheless, you need to adapt to change before it flips the switch on your work ethic, and ultimately, hinders sales performance.

There’s a number of quick solutions you must stay abreast of:

-  With ever-expanding workflows from all the sales reps you’re leading, you must brush  up your project management skills constantly. Even if you think they’re great, make them better.

-   Lend your ear to the sales representatives to more things than just cold call quotas. What are they struggling with? Do they feel their training programs are outdated? Whatever questions are lobbed your way, make sure you’re willing to receive them, while also remembering to throw your own suggestions their way, too.

-   And if there training is outdated, find a better solution. Instead of shelling out dollars for instructors to temporarily ground your sales team by having them huddle together in one room, get with the times and roll out e-learning content that makes sense, is concise, accessible and retainable.

And that’s it for now. These are just a few of many questions that a newly-minted - or soon-to-be - sales manager must ponder and work through as their promotion kicks into high gear. All the old work habits and decisions that helped get you this promotion are still as important as ever, but you must keep positive, be as productive as ever, learn new traits and create an engaging environment for your sales team to thrive in for the here and now.

Above all else, cherish the promotion and do whatever keeps yourself from humming the lyrics to The Beach Boys’ “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times."

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