Sales management positions are extremely rigorous and difficult positions. The men and women who earn a sales management job in tech startups or enterprises are the people who bring massive revenue and inspire huge results with their teams. To put it simply, a sales manager is what gets money through the door. Having a constant flow of income is the foundation of every business. If you can be the rainmaker for your employer, you will be treated as an invaluable asset. But the question is, how do you develop the skills to be a high functioning sales manager?
To develop your skills as a sales manager, sometimes you just need to throw yourself into the water to learn how to swim. But, before you do, here is one key ability you will need to be successful.
Know Your Ideal Position
Knowing your ideal position is a key ability you will need to master in order to be successful as a sales manager. Within sales, there are many different departments that require leadership. For example, business development teams need different leadership and management compared to sales enablement or field sales reps. Placing yourself appropriately within your team can be the difference between making in rain or feeling the pain.
Think about it. The VP Sales or CSO at a bootstrapped tech startup is going to have everything on his shoulders – the training, process creation and development, hiring, coaching and stack development. However, the VP of Business Development at an enterprise organization will have more narrow, specific focuses. Depending on your skills and experience, one or the other position will be best for you and ultimately the company as a whole.
Answering the questions of your ideal position will require some introspection. You must know yourself before you will be fit to manage an entire sales team. Do you love to help people? Being the business development leader will allow you to coach the SDR or BDR team. They’re learning, are thirsty for knowledge, and want to improve so they get promoted.
Put together a list what you like doing and the corresponding positions that match your interests.
Be an Advocate for Your Company and the People You Work With
The second part of your question deal with personality traits of a successful sales manager. One thing that employers love the most is having someone who loves the company as much as they do. What employees often don’t understand about the higher ups in their company is exactly how much they have dedicated their lives to making their company successful. When they see others with their level of commitment they instantly hold you in high regard.
Part of this process is gaining visibility and recognition among the leadership team and the sales team. Being open and available to as many people at the company is one great way to build trust and familiarity with you. Imaging the stuck up manager who only comes out of the office to bark orders and make impossible demands, do not be that guy. Don’t just make small talk either, the people you work with are human beings with unique stories and traits. Learn who they are and how they best fit within the company. As the sales manager you may find positions for people that will make them a lot happier and more productive, it’s a win for everybody.
This doesn’t only apply to your immediate group. Meet the marketing team and the content creators or whichever departments are relevant to the business. The benefit of this is to build relationships within the team and to show your real intention to join the team for reasons other than the salary. But, of course, you have to balance this process out. You can’t be too needy for attention either. Your social skills within the company is a skill and should not be overlooked just because your numbers happen to be good this month.
Let’s face it, many people at your company don’t necessarily want to be there every day of the week. If you can establish yourself as somebody they look forward to seeing, you will boost moral which will lead to a healthier more successful workplace for everybody involved, including yourself.
Never Stop Learning
Your skills are what will determine a large part of your success. Luckily there is a wealth of information about specific within the sales process itself. When you’re not working, you need to be absorbing as much information as possible from books, seminars, videos, and podcasts. You want to be the guy who is always up to date with the cutting edge of your field. If you don’t think you are up for the lifelong path to mastery, then consider a different field.
People who have been massively successful have written their entire life stories down for us to learn form. Sam Walton has a great book called “Made in America” that’s a great primer for any ambitious person in the sales field. We don’t have to make mistakes in order to learn, we can simply learn from the mistakes of others and avoid the pain all together.
Taking a position as a sales manager is a massive commitment. Be ready to put all your skills and energy to the test. When you become successful, don’t become a jerk about it. Make sure your team feels just as successful as you do when things go right, and just as much to blame when things go wrong. Good luck on your new position!