Many of us find the decision to go into sales to be an easy one. Money, the abundance of potential employers, and an exciting and fast-paced career are all draws for the right type of person (or approximately fifteen million people according to the BLS’s sales employment figures).
Once in sales, your career path will likely vary, whether you stay in the same industry for years, or switch to something that’s a better fit. Similarly, at some point you’ll likely be faced with the choice of whether to continue as an independent contributor, or to move into sales management.
So how can you decide whether to keep selling or become a sales leader?
Every person will, of course, have their own motivations and will arrive at the decision in their own way, but if any of the following signs apply to you, then the decision might be a lot easier than you might think.
Here are some signs that you belong in sales management:
1. You think (and care) about the company’s future
While an independent contributor is usually focused on their own quota and commission check, those who take a bigger-picture approach to business have the right mindset for management. What does your industry look like, how is it likely to change, and where does your company fit in the marketplace? If those are the types of things you think about, then management might be a great fit.
2. You’re able to trust your sales reps
As a sales rep, you only have to worry about your own actions, but when you get into management, you’ll have to contend with different personalities, all of whom have their own unique selling styles and idiosyncrasies. Are you the type of person who can trust people to do their job, even if it’s not the exact way you’d do it, or will it drive you crazy and turn you into a micromanager or a stress case? If it’s the former, then you’re on the right track… if it’s the latter, then management might not be the right move.
3. You’re patient
Great sales managers are patient, because working with multiple people requires it. Are you able to listen to understand, not just to wait your turn to speak? Are you the kind of person who’s willing to invest time and resources into making somebody better, a process that can take months before seeing results? If so, then you have the right temperament for sales management.
4. You love helping coworkers
Before jumping into management, it’s a good idea to consider whether you enjoy helping your coworkers. This is an excellent test case, because it’ll be a huge part of the new role. Do you actually enjoy assisting your coworkers and helping them become better, or do you see it as a frustrating burden that you’d rather forego to focus on yourself? Make sure you know the answer before accepting a management position.
5. You’re interested in processes
While process isn’t everything, it’s a lot, and it’ll be a big part of any sales management role. Coming up with actionable plans, then measuring against them will become part of your day-to-day, so make sure it’s work that you’re able to do competently, if not exceptionally. And, if you truly want to make an impact, make sure you immerse yourself in new technologies (like Dooly) that can really help you boost sales.
6. You’re able to avoid personal bias
There’s nothing salespeople hate more than sales managers who play favorites. Are you the type of person who’s able to put your personal biases aside and do what’s best for the team? Make sure the answer is yes, or your career in sales leadership is likely to be short-lived. Salespeople want a chance to succeed, and they’ll need your help to do it. Favoring one person over everybody else is the antithesis of good leadership.
7. You can handle having difficult conversations
Unfortunately, the role of a sales leader will force you to have difficult conversations, whether it’s dealing with disgruntled customers, poor-performing sales reps, or having to terminate someone’s employment. Do you have the stomach to have these discussions on a regular basis and have them in a compassionate way? Make sure you’re being honest with yourself, because this aspect of the job is too serious to treat frivolously.
8. You’re able to inspire
A great sales leader is not only able to inspire, she also wants to do it. Salespeople will look to you through the difficult times, of which there will be many. Will you step up and lead them to victory, helping them reach their professional goals, or will you lock yourself in your office and send emails, hoping you can badger them into success? The good news is that you can learn how to lead, but the question you should ask yourself is: do you want to?