Management Material?

October 01, 2019

Today is my first day of full-time self-employment, and I can’t help but take a second to stop and look back at how the hell I got here. I’ve made a lot of choices in life that have contributed to building my career, but right now, the pivotal step that sticks out in my mind is the decision I made 15 years ago to move into leadership. Nothing I have today would exist if I hadn’t graduated from sales rep to manager.

How many of you reading this are individual contributors? Have you ever thought about moving into management? For a lot of sales reps, it’s the logical next step. But, it isn’t for everyone. I’ve worked with a lot of top performers who thought management was the only way to advance their career. It’s not. (If you’re curious about alternative career trajectories in sales, let me know.)

For some of you, the excitement you got from reading that last sentence may have been enough for you to realize sales management isn’t your calling. Congratulations! You possibly just saved yourself years of chasing a goal that you would have hated achieving. Email me and let’s talk about other options.

Many of you are still reading and thinking nothing would make you happier than to become sales manager > director of sales > VP > and maybe even independent consultant. If that’s you, I’ve got a few questions for you.

Are you consistently performing at the top of your company?

The answer to this question does not AT ALL indicate whether management is right for you. However, if you answered yes, the next question will definitely help you make your decision.

If you answered yes to #1, are you willing to take a hefty pay cut, possibly for longer than a year?

If not, go ahead and shoot me an email and let’s talk about other options. Management is not for you.

Can you live with the failures of others being reflected on your paycheck? Can you genuinely take responsibility in the failure of others?

If you answered ‘no’ to either of those, management is not for you.

Do you find more joy/pride/validation in helping someone else close a deal than in closing a deal yourself?

If not, management is not for you.

Do you have the patience and desire to get to know people (people you may not get to choose) on a personal level to learn who they are, what motivates them, build trust with them, and guide them?

If your answer involved the shrugging of even one shoulder, management is not for you. This is the one you absolutely can not fake. If you’ve made it this far down the list, you need to be really honest with yourself on this one. If this is something you think you can deal with, as opposed to something that burns at the very core of who you are, you are not cut out to be a sales manager.

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, you likely possess the right brand of resilience, confidence, and growth mentality to be a good sales leader. *(If you answered ‘no,’ that doesn’t mean you don’t have those three qualities – just not in the same way. Marathoners and sprinters both possess speed, just different types of speed and one is not better than the other.)

However, resilience, confidence, and growth mentality only get you so far. Once you’ve decided management is your next move, it’s time to hone your communication and teaching skills. If those don’t come natural to you, you have to be sure there’s nothing else on earth you’d rather do than be in sales management. Otherwise, you’ll give up before you’re good enough. Your very job as a sales leader is largely teaching people how to communicate. You have to be an expert at both.

If you’re one of the select few still with me in the last paragraph, drop me a line and let me know