How did you rise to a management position in your company? If you’re like me (and I’m speaking from experience), you advanced through the ranks by practicing superior sales performance. As a result, you became a manager without any formal management training. If this is true, then you may be failing your company twice. First, by being unprepared for the job and, second, by leaving a void when you advanced from the position of a superstar salesperson.
For a smooth transition from sales into management, apply these six principles.
- Educate yourself prior to the promotion. In his management seminar, Tom Hopkins explained that, when he was asked to join management after an incredibly successful streak as a salesperson, he said yes on one condition: He wanted six months of intensive, hands-on management education.Unfortunately, many managers are promoted because of a crisis and receive their corporate baptism by fire. Regardless of how you attained your position, tabulate how many months, weeks, days or hours of formal management training (not practical experience) you have had. The answer is probably “not enough.”Management – like selling – is a skill. That’s good news because, since it is a skill, it can be learned. So run to the bookstore or library and stock up on books written by those who have been there, done that and are willing to talk about it. Attend every seminar and management course you can. Search online for reputable material to get and free correspondence classes on management. Don’t wait to be taught. Take a proactive approach. Become a scholarly sponge and you’ll absorb success.
- Recognize that you are no longer one of the “boys or girls.” For new managers, this single aspect of crossing the line seems to present the greatest dilemma. One minute you are socializing with your friends around the water cooler and the next you are responsible for their results. It is a casualty of the position that you must often forego friendship to establish leadership.
- Stop managing and start leading. New home sales managers, beware! Don’t buy into your title. No one wants a manager, but everyone wants a leader. It goes against our nature to feel like we’re being “managed.” It suggests that we’re incapable of doing it on our own so we need supervision. But we all like role models who lead by example. What better way to learn?Leadership motivates – not manipulates – employees.
- If you want to win the game, you better train before the event. Wayne Gretskey, the Mozart of hockey said, “I don’t get paid for what I do on the ice, but for what I do between the times I’m on the ice.”Beyond your own personal development, your team’s education should include weekly training meetings (not policy sessions) to develop their skills. Bring in outside industry experts to enhance their education.I continue to be surprised when someone tells me, “Training is expensive. What if I spend money training them and they leave?” Here’s a thought. What if you don’t train them and they stay?
And here’s one last tip. When you schedule a team training session or seminar that’s conducted by others, plan on being present yourself. Your attendance and participation sends a clear message about your commitment to leadership and self-improvement.
Finally, and it bears repeating, continue training yourself. Attend every seminar possible, listen to sales and management tapes in your car every day and read a minimum of six books a year on management, sales and attitude.
- Motivate and inspire. If you want success, you must create an atmosphere in which success can occur. In simplest terms, your job is reduced to two primary functions.A. Create profitable sales
B. Extract extraordinary results from ordinary people
Administrating, setting policy, dealing with reports and making sure the paperwork is accurate is effective management. Recognizing and rewarding great performance is good leadership. Getting out of the office and spending a minimum of 50% of your time coaching your sales staff is just plain smart.
- Lead by example. The rule is simple: If occasionally you don’t sell, you cannot coach others in sales. To stay in touch with reality, position yourself on the front lines. You need to know what brick walls your salespeople encounter…what consumers are asking…how buying habits are changing…who your competitors are. Shadow your team members during their sales presentation. Observe how they meet and greet, qualify, demonstrate the site and close the sale.
Remember …If a team member loses focus, you have one person off track. If a manager loses focus, you have the entire organization off track.~ Myers Barnes