Sales – Is success measured in stripes or stars?
Is success in your career in sales measured by the title you have or, by the content of your job, the remuneration you receive and how happy your customers are? Many successful salespeople have a desire to become sales managers. Why? Some will struggle to answer that question. Successful salespeople often earn more than their managers. The sales role is very egocentric. You focus on yourself and your own success. It is the primary driver. A sales manager must think of everyone else and not themselves. It is all about the performance of the group. This massive mental adjustment from self to others is very challenging, particularly for individuals with strong personal drive. Carrying this approach into a leadership role creates tactical not strategic leaders. It feeds short termism and a need to be firefighting and in amongst it all the time. That’s the comfort zone. Generals win battles not sergeants.
The transition from sales to leadership
Of course success in sales often leads to fantastic career opportunities in sales management, key account management, general management and director level positions.
The leadership ladder
A focus on what you want from your career is important. If it’s stars on your shoulders you desire then also consider the challenges which come with that responsibility – Consider this, you:
- Will depend on the performance of others not just yourself.
- Cannot lead by personality alone.
- Need big ideas, a plan
- Must be able to listen and most important of all, you must acquire good judgment. All of this brings its rewards but at the same time the progression is not linear.
New skills will be required on the way and that is why continuous professional development is a key factor in reinventing yourself and meeting career opportunities when you are ready to take them. An adjustment in attitude and sometimes in pace is important. Staying successful in sales is even more challenging than becoming successful in sales. A consistently productive salesperson is perhaps the most precious asset any company has. Often, companies switch off this productivity by promoting their winners into non-productive supervisory roles. The trick is to keep your best salespeople motivated and selling. It’s complicated, exciting and full of opportunity but chasing the stars on your shoulder is not always the key to career happiness in sales. The biggest positive is that success in sales brings with it the confidence to tackle almost anything your career can throw at you!