Becoming A Manager Series – Part 3

October 13, 2020

Developing Management Skills as an Individual Contributor

In the last part of the series we discussed how to start your campaign to become a manager. One of the most important aspects of that article is meeting with members of management and getting specific action items that they would need to see you accomplish to feel confident backing you as a manager. More than likely, that list is going to have some common traits.

This week, I’m going to talk about the skills and traits you need to develop to be a manager and why.

Do your job.

I can not emphasize this enough, if you are not hitting your quota then I will not hire you for a management position. Hard no. Think about it, if you can’t hit your numbers, how can I expect you to get a whole team to hit their numbers? I can’t. Not only that, but even if I did give you the opportunity to manage after missing your numbers you would not be able to command the respect of your team.

Your most important priority above all else is doing your job and hitting your quota.

Treat your KPI’s like you are a manager.

Your manager is using your KPI’s to help you make adjustments in your process. Every one-on-one you have with them, they should be going over your numbers to pick out the areas you can improve the most. If you’re a proficient sales person, these little tweaks can go a long way to helping you really excel.

Dig into the numbers and figure out what areas you can adapt to make the biggest difference. If you’re already a high performer, your numbers will likely be above average BUT that does not mean there are no areas to improve. Get granular. Maybe you could increase your connect rate by blocking prospecting times to certain hours. Maybe you could stand to improve in a specific industry you are selling into. Point is, you will be thinking about this on a daily basis to support your reps in the future and you need to have an intimate understanding of your KPI’s and develop strategies to help reps adapt. It starts with you.

Have the most organized and up-to-date pipeline.

You’re probably noticing a theme at this point. Yes, your pipeline should be immaculate. Managing a pipeline is an ongoing process, extremely important, and usually the first thing to get disorganized for many sales people. You should have your eye on your pipeline and be cleaning it up on an ongoing basis throughout the day and then again at the end of the day.

Each morning you should be walking in knowing exactly what needs to be done for the day. Your notes should be up to date. Your calendar should be organized, attendees confirmed,  and conferencing links added. You should have a plan for follow ups, know what each of your prospects needs from you and you from them, and you should be able to accurately project your month and quarter.

Doing all of these things above will help you tighten up your day, make you more efficient and effective. That should help you free up some time to help others when it’s appropriate.

Ask where you can help.

When you are doing all of these things and are demonstrating proficiency and understanding of the process and you’re hitting your numbers THEN you should suggest ways or ask how you can contribute to the success of the team. Ask to speak in huddles or do a lunch and learn for the team and speak to something that is working for you. See if there are reps on the team you can help coach or mentor.

Build confidence with your manager by demonstrating that you understand the process and why it is important – no cutting corners. Lead by example, hit your numbers, and then you can show others how they can do it too.

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Becoming a Manager Series – Part 2

October 06, 2020

Campaigning for the Next Management Role

Once you’ve decided you want to go into management, now you need to know how to get the job.

First piece of advice: don’t assume that the people you report to know that you want to become a manager. I hear it all the time, “I am never considered for management positions.” Well, have you told anyone you want to be considered for management? If you have not, here is what you should do:

  • Set time with the manager you report to and let them know you want to be considered for the next available management position.
  • Ask them how they got in that position.
  • Ask if and when they think another position will be open.
  • Ask them what they would need to see from you to feel confident that you would make a good manager for the company and why. Ask for specifics and make a list to track your progress.
  • Ask them to nominate you and for open positions.

You want your manager to be aware and help guide you. They will also be able to delegate managerial tasks to you so you can get experience working on tasks directly related to the role. No one is going to be able to speak more intimately about your preparedness for a role than the person you are working directly for who is in the position you are trying to get.

Press your manager for specific tasks, accomplishments, and improvements that they need to see from you to make them confident in nominating you for the role. Evaluate the list and make sure you understand the ‘why’ behind each of the tasks. This list should act as a benchmark list that you can measure, check off, and ask for help on when necessary. The list will be the map and you should record your progress all along the way so you can demonstrate it in an interview.

You should also set meetings with other members of your management team.  The goal for these meetings are the same as the meeting you had with your direct manager. Gather information about what they would like to see and  corroborate the list, add items, and expand upon your items. The goal here is to campaign for yourself with other members of your management team and get specific directions from them. This will also get you more attention from leadership and more opportunities to showcase your preparedness.

On your path forward, make sure you involve members of the management team and keep them up to date on your progress, ask for their insight and help, and highlight your wins. This is a great way to build rapport with the leadership team. It will also start a working relationship with them so when you do get the role they will be pulling for you to succeed and more likely to help and mentor you.

Don’t forget that you still have a job to do and hitting quota is still your primary objective. If you are not hitting your quota – even if you are doing a million other things right – you are going to get overlooked. The additional tasks should be done only after your job is complete. That means that you will have to put in some extra effort and time to show you mean business. That extra effort and time is not something that goes away once you get the job either.

Lastly, if you help members of your team, ask them to write you a quick blurb about what you did for them and what that helped them accomplish. Again, you want to build a case for the hiring managers that you are the best fit for the job. If you can get other members of management to campaign for you, you have testimonials from members of the team you have helped, and you have evidenced your progress towards the role, you will be able to make a very strong case for the next opening… because you are already doing it.

Next week, we’re going to talk about strategies to develop managerial skills while in your current position.

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Becoming A Manager Series – Part 1

September 29, 2020

Over the next few weeks, I am going to release a series specifically to help people who are considering going into a sales managerial role. It’s time to evaluate the good and the bad, position yourself for the role, prepare for the role, interview for and perform well in the role.

There are a lot of considerations that need to be made prior to becoming a manager. As a manager, you are no longer just responsible for your own performance. You now have to take ownership of other people’s development and ultimately their livelihood.

This is not a not a decision you should take lightly, but if you are looking to challenge yourself and are dedicated to helping others grow, this is an incredibly fulfilling career path.

Part 1: Why and why not to be a manager.

Why are you in sales? Obviously, we all need a way to make money, but out of all the careers you could have chosen or paths you could have gone down, why did you choose sales?

  • Is it because you like the chase and the rush of getting a win?
  • Is it because you gain satisfaction helping the people you’re selling to?
  • Is it because the paycheck is bigger than other career paths you could have gone down?

The reason you go into management will likely be different than the reason you went into sales. Management is not for everyone and you can make an amazing career for yourself being an individual contributor in sales. You can move to different types of sales roles in different industries and make a boat load of money doing it. You will also only be responsible for hitting your quota. There is a lot of freedom to that and there is zero shame in being an individual contributor. Know that.

If you are thinking you want to go into management because:

  • You are tired of selling.
  • You think it will be less work.
  • It’s simply the next step in your career.

You are not going to have a good time being a manager. Leading people is challenging physically, mentally and emotionally and you need to personally get something out of seeing people succeed and hate seeing them fail. If you don’t feel that, your people will know.

If you do want to go into management, you need to have a clear vision of what your reasons are. As a manager, you are no longer responsible for just yourself. You are now responsible for the growth and development of a group of people and your decisions will influence whether or not those people succeed or fail. Beyond your sales acumen, you need to be able to lead people, motivate them, have hard conversations with them when they are not performing, be a coach, be a teacher, be a therapist, manage team dynamics, hold people accountable, help people manage their pipelines, have a deep understanding of KPI’s and how to use them…. The list goes on.

Many of the people who become great managers are not always elite salespeople. Most great managers are passionate about helping people first and foremost. Helping people requires a lot of empathy and being empathetic should not be confused with coddling people. A lot of times it means being very direct about what people are doing wrong and what will happen if they don’t fix it. You can’t be afraid of challenging people because…. well, that’s your job. Get comfortable with that.

If all of this sounds like a challenge you are ready and willing to take on, fantastic. This will be an incredible challenge, but for those who are able to figure it out you will literally help people to achieve their goals and dreams, grow professionally and personally and have an impact on people’s lives.

That’s why you should go into management.

If you’re still on the fence, think through the reasons you’re considering management and whether or not you are willing to accept the challenges and the pressure.

Next week, we will talk about how to carve a path to get a management role.

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Be a Job Finder not a Job Seeker

September 22, 2020

What does it take to stand out in an incredibly crowded job market right now?

I’m going to share a story a member of my Patreon group shared with me this past week. It’s an incredible story of creativity, determination and results.

“Hey, you mentioned you wanted LinkedIn DM’s about over-the-top applicant stories in the Patreon group. I just landed a job (starting Oct 6th in a mid-market AE role at a SaaS company called “Klue” (competitive intelligence enablement software) that just closed a $15M Series A in Vancouver, Canada) and I’ve been told my cadence was a little off the wall lol.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Reached out to Klue back in March right before COVID hit about a position
  2. Once the crisis hit, stayed un-offendable about not getting an interview and kept my eyes on social media to see when the tide would turn
  3. Stayed connected with the HR consultant. Made an impression and did some digging to get insight into their hiring process and who to connect with. Got feedback from her that timing might be better in July, which I confirmed from seeing their posts on LinkedIn.
  4. In July, reached out to their top enterprise rep for insight into the process. Got her to champion me to the VP HR and new Sales Director.
  5. Connected with both on LinkedIn and hit them with creative emails and video messages (dripping LI posts to the Sales Director along the way to maintain engagement)
  6. Followed up on rounds 1 and 2 with creative video summaries of the interview describing key takeaways and selling the next step **One really practical story of how those video summaries helped me** The VP HR actually rejected me after the HR screening interview because she thought I was a culture fit, but totally lacked the experience they were looking for. I’ve got some B2B experience (~3 years selling small-scale SMB as an AE) but none in SaaS or at their deal complexity, so they told me straight up that they treated me like I had zero experience… She thought I was gritty, personable and smart, etc, but her advice to the new Sales Director was to drop me at that stage of the game because they were looking exclusively for veterans. He took her advice and I was out of the game… But I didn’t know that! (I only discovered this in my second interview when the Sales Director brought it up.) So, I sent a video recap to the Sales Director summarizing what I thought went well and selling the next step and he said “screw it, I don’t care about his experience, I’ve got to meet this guy, put him in a meeting with me” The quick, creative video recap (2-3 minutes max) is a pretty fire tactic that I couldn’t recommend more highly when done properly… it literally resurrected me from the dead in this process…
  7. Interviewed another top AE to get insight into the details of their process and organization to prepare for final interview (who happened to be on the panel in the final round)
  8. Interviewed a bunch of businesses in their ICP (mainly Product Marketing Leaders, also Competitive Intelligence and Sales Leaders) — got 3 leaders to send video testimonials saying they should hire me (one of which was their ICP at G2, including the quote “if you don’t hire this guy, Jacob, call me and I will get you a job here instead”)
  9. Interviewed the VP of Product Marketing at Klue (1st time in Klue’s history that an AE candidate has done that apparently) to get the recommendation of the ICP-equivalent at Klue and get EXTRA prepared for final round. He also gave a testimonial to the CEO and Sales Director — he was also a former client leading Product Marketing at Hootsuite and was an enterprise sales rep before, so they very much value his opinion on these things
  10. Getting additional respected sales mentors to shoot the CEO and the Sales Director testimonials on why they think I’d be a good sales hire (ex: Dave Weiss, Kyle Coleman) The sheer volume of videos propelled some serious “who the hell is this guy?!?!” vibes internally, which is the exactly the buzz I wanted circulating before the last interview.
  11. When the CEO asked one of my referrals if I had “the killer instinct” and “love for the hunt” in an email, I told the referral to respond “Jacob said to check your texts”. I tracked down the CEO’s cell number in an old fundraising press release, called him and texted him a couple voice notes when he didn’t pick up.
  12. Did a bit beyond the standard prep for my mock disco call. Prepped slides that visually aligned with their brand guide, dropping sophisticated insights referencing convos I was having with other industry leaders to validate mock-prospect pain and included some funny moments for extra sauce (ex: got some pretty audible laughter from photoshopping their team’s faces onto a picture of the Avenger’s to talk about how our solution is designed to make them the heroes of the story)
  13. Tapping into my competitive debater roots, I sent a full-scale, formal debate-style debrief analysis (written and video versions) to respond to last key questions they mentioned having about my candidacy in the final interview. **While the written notes were just 3 pages (point form with big font), the last video (and only that video) was literally 14 minutes long… The amount of hype created by the videos throughout the process made them want to watch a 14 minute video from me, affording me a seat in the decision making room I never would have otherwise had… (In fairness, they made the decision to hire me immediately after the interview, so none of that debrief was necessary, but the Sales Director described the last video/notes as “just one more top shelf move after a series of top shelf moves”)

Overall, it was a fun time! The CEO began the final interview by saying “never in my 25 year career have I had someone do anything like what you just did throughout this interview process. My hat is completely tipped to you.”

I’ve kept all of the content created throughout the process and plan to be posting snippets of the cadence on LinkedIn over the coming months! Actually, I was really hoping to discuss how to build out a content strategy for my new role/myself in general on LinkedIn in our scheduled chat next Thurs Sept 24th (11:45am PST) — excited to learn from you on that! Hope this was an enjoyable read! Looking forward to getting to properly (virtually) meet! Thanks for all you do man :)”

MIND F-ING BLOWN. Who is this person who did this you ask? Jacob Gebrewold – take a bow.

PS: He’ll be starting at Klue pretty quick, so if losing fewer deals to competitors is a hot topic for your team, give him a shout!

It’s almost time for Q4 – what are you doing to ensure a successful finish this year? Stop by Thursday Night Sales this week and let’s talk about it.

Learn how I got promoted from rep to manager in 3 months, how he gets so much done, and why the captain is never the best player. My appearance on The Next Level Sales Leadership Podcast.

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