Business and life is filled with a lot of “shoulds.” The profession of sales has its own list of shoulds such as, “A top sales producer should ask for a promotion to sales manager. You should climb the corporate ladder. You should aspire to lead and manage a sales team.”
It’s easy for salespeople, particularly top producers, to fall into the “should” trap only to end up in a misery trap wondering why they asked for and accepted a promotion to sales management.
If you are a top seller, considering a sales leadership role, slow down. Carve out time to think and reflect on these three questions.
Question #1 to ask yourself before becoming a sales manger:
Will you enjoy your new role as a sales leader as much as you do that of an individual contributor?
Top salespeople are top salespeople because of their ability to open up new business opportunities. They are good at prospecting and enjoy the thrill of opening up new customers or growing existing customers.
Prospecting doesn’t go away when you take on the role of a sales leader. However, the target changes because successful sales managers consistently prospect for top sales talent, particularly in a tough labor market.
Your activity changes from meeting with prospects and clients to meeting with perspective sales candidates.
Does the idea of interviewing salespeople energize you or drain you? If the idea of recruiting and interviewing drains you, be aware that you will end up just like a salesperson that doesn’t like prospecting. You will be looking at an empty people pipeline and missed sales forecasts.
Question #2 to ask yourself before becoming a sales manger:
Are you willing to put in the time and practice needed to master the new skills of sales management?
When you take on the role of sales management, your success is measured by how well develop the skills to transfer the knowledge, habits and skills that made you a top sales producer.
Training and coaching skills are different than selling skills. Let me say that again. Training and coaching skills are different than selling skills.
Mastering these new skills takes hours of study, practice and more practice. It means enrolling in sales management courses, reading leadership books and practicing with your peers.
Are you ready and willing to put in the work needed to acquire and hone these new sales leadership skills?
Question #3 to ask yourself before becoming a sales manger:
What are your blind spots when it comes to leadership?
This is always a tough question to ask because blind spots are, well, blind spots. A common blind spot in many sales organizations is the lack of a common sales playbook.
Look at any high-performance team and you will find a common playbook. An athletic team has a playbook. Musicians have a musical score from which they play. And actors and actresses perform from a screenplay.
Developing a sales playbook is the sales leader’s responsibility.
Which leads to another question.
Are you willing and able to document selling stages and scripts for your sales team? Does the idea of such documentation make you want to put a fork in your eye? If so, there is a good chance you will not take the time build a sales playbook. And as a result, you will be herding sales cats as you try to coach 10 to 100 different sales playbooks.
Congratulations, you’ve been offered a promotion to sales management. Before saying yes, apply the EQ skill of self-awareness and ask yourself introspective questions.
Will I enjoy the role of sales management as much as that of an individual contributor?
Am I willing to put in the work to acquire and master the new skills of sales leadership?
What are blind spots that could derail my success in sales leadership?