When successful salespeople are promoted into sales leadership positions, no one ever tells them what’s really about to change in their life.
Which means they either;
Treat the new role just like the last one
Or recognise that their world has just changed – DRAMATICALLY – and try to change with it
Trouble is most salespeople who make that step – even those who try to embrace the change – tend to find themselves being pulled down by a particularly nasty kind of management quick-sand.
Most think that all they have to do is just keep implementing the sales expertise and work ethic that got them there in the first place – and somehow pass that on to the sales team they’re being asked to look after.
And there is some truth in that.
But what no one ever tells them, is that their new job is not about hitting target.
This new job is about making sure the target gets hit
Subtle difference in words – MASSIVE difference in results.
Great sales management – successful sales management – has always had a small number of foundation stones – genuine principles.
Not so very long ago, sales managers would have been given half a chance to work out what those foundations were and obey the principles.
But the world moves ever quicker, people want results faster – and new sales leaders are made to feel more and more like top flight Football Managers – instant results, or the mounting pressure of imminent failure.
So the ability to put those foundation stones in place, is quickly becoming a bit of a lost art.
A career threatening lost art.
Let me tell you a quick story
One day while out walking, a man falls down a deep, wide hole with no visible means of escape.
The sides are too smooth for him to grip on to, the coolness of early evening has started to descend – and it’s a long, long way back up to the top.
On top of that, he realises that he hurt himself during the long drop.
His whole body aches, he feels a bit shaky and weak – and he can’t work out why he feels so fatigued and tired.
And his pride’s taken a dent too. Falling down into this hole was clearly his fault and it – was – just – such – a – stupid – thing – to – do.
After about an hour, a rich businessman walks past the top of the hole – and so he calls up to him for help;
“Wait, don’t go – I’ve fallen down this hole – can you help me please?”
“Of course,” shouts down the generous, businessman – throws down some money – and then carries on along his way.
A little while later, a doctor walks past – and the man in the hole shouts out again;
“Doctor, doctor – I’ve had a nasty fall – please – do something?”
“Of course,” shouts down the doctor – who writes out a prescription, throws it down the hole – and then also carries on along his way.
Later still, a priest walks by – and the man in the hole tries again;
“Excuse me – I’m sorry to bother you but I’ve fallen down this hole – please help?”
“Of course,” shouts down the priest – who then writes down his favourite prayer, throws it down the hole – while saying the words “have patience” and disappears into the night.
Finally just when he is about to give up, a friend walks by – and, using the last of his energy, the man in the hole jumps up and down, screaming;
“Wait – I’ve fallen down this hole – I need some help?”
“Of course,” says the friend – who then jumps down into the hole and joins him.
The man in the hole can’t believe it.
“What are you doing – why did you do that – now we’re both in this deep, dark hole together.”
“ Maybe ,” says the friend
“But I’ve been down this hole before – so I know how to show you the way out.”
And when it comes to DEEP DARK SALES MANAGEMENT HOLES – there have been times when I was definitely stuck.
I would never advertise myself as the greatest sales manager in the world – and I certainly wouldn’t describe younger me as anything other than a lucky stumbler, especially at the beginning of my career – but it’s that history that enables me to do what I do now.
It’s the very fact that I did fall down – extremely hard and far too often – back then, that I’m now able to help others climb out of the hole – and even show some how to avoid falling down the hole altogether.
You see, it never really helps the rest of us to be told how by a “specialist” how good the theory of their idea is without proof, history and context.
Because if the person who is trying to help you improve has never lived the problem you’re currently facing,
then they’ve never truly felt the pain of the problem you’re living with.
So, with that in mind;
What kind of Sales Manager do YOU want to be?
How do you want to be remembered at the end of your career?
The person who took their team to greater things?
The person who ran the team that everybody wanted to join?
The person who always helped the team hit target?
To be fair – I don’t think you have much of a choice.
This job is Do or Do Not – THERE IS NO TRY!
I’m not going to pretend this will be the remedy for all your management woes, a path to a perfect stress free management nirvana – and I will not be blowing smoke to make you feel better if you just grasp half of this and tell me you’re doing you’re best – I don’t run those kinds of workshops.
It’s just that there are 4 principles you must understand.
And you have to hear them from someone who got to grips with them at the coal face.
Oh – and you need to hit the ground running right now
Not in a year from now – Everybody knows sales targets expire every 12 months.
And in 12 months you’ll need to be able to show that you’ve got this Sales Management thing down to a tee
A motivated, focused team, who take responsibility for all the things that they are accountable for
Together with the knowledge of how best to coach and develop them
And what you’ll need to do when things go wrong – so that you can handle them in a professional (and legal) manner.