When you’re at the beginning of your sales manager career, it can be hard to see exactly what steps you need to take to travel the road ahead, and achieve your career goals. You may know you have it in you, but to really make a success in a sales executive, you need to be sure your skills are on point, that you’re prepared, and that you can make the people who matter notice your skills.
If you’re working in sales, have an impressive track record, and are interested in preparing for the next steps in your career, we’ve put together 10 steps you can take to prepare yourself for the jump to sales executive, to help ensure you know how to succeed and take steps toward your goals each day.
Moving to an Executive position comes with more responsibility, more pressure, but no more hours in the day. The best way to ensure you’re ready to take on more responsibility is to truly get organized in every way. Get used to following a calendar, being efficient, and wasting as little time as possible. Being totally and completely organized also means having a grasp on upcoming projects, budgeting your time wisely, and helping to budget the time of your teams.
If a sales executive position is within your sites, you need to remember personal organization as well. While taking on new responsibilities, you need prepare yourself to be capable of handling your personal life: family, friends, money, health, and social time can’t be sacrificed entirely to take on a new position. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, cracking down and keeping to an organized schedule in every way actually gives you more time for everything in our life.
Develop your empathy and ability to connect
The ability to empathize and connect is essential to sales, and that’s something you likely already put into practice. Learning to empathize and connect with anyone you are working with is an essential skill for a sales executive.
Empathy, a key to sales, allows you to have an innate understanding of how to move a product, and to whom. But beyond this, it also helps you serve as a competent and considerate leader, and work well with those around you. Don’t wait until you’re in your new executive role to start putting this into practice. Start acting today for the job you desire tomorrow.
Learn what people value
Having an amazing product and selling it is one thing. Making major decisions about product lines, how they will be sold, and how they will be marketed is quite another. As an executive, you need to develop your instincts, and become very capable of making quick decisions about your business based on instinct, experience, and educated guesses.
As a sales manager, you have some experience with measuring what people value. As a sales executive, you’ll need to have this skill sharpened, and ready to apply in many high-pressure situations.
Hustle, but hustle wisely
Sales are all about the hustle, but the sales game is changing. As you aim to be promoted to the title of sales executive, you need to be able to learn from the masters, those who made sales what they are. But, you also have the added challenge of remaining in touch with educated buyers who are very different than they were even 20 years ago.
Developing your hustle is a careful dance between persistence and respect – and something that differs from product to product, and industry to industry. Be sure to observe the most successful executives you encounter in your current role. Observe how they handle people around them, and the delicate hustle they employ in every aspect of their careers. When you graduate from sales manager to sales executive, you’ll employ these skills every day on the job.
Learn to be a survivor
When confronted with a difficult situation, people will generally go into one of two modes: victim, or survivor. Victims tend to balk in the face of strife and struggle, using issues as an excuse not to get the job done. The higher up on the food chain you are, the less excuses matter, even if they are valid.
This step is one of the most crucial you can take in learning how to move from sales manager to sales executive. Being someone who will find a solution, a way to survive and thrive no matter the obstacle, is an essential skill for any executive, but particularly one in sales.
Learn to learn in any situation
Learning is something that we do directly and indirectly, and every situation provides an opportunity to sharpen your skills and your decision making ability. When you’re putting yourself on the track to being promoted to sales executive, training is not always something you’ll get for every tasking, and learning how to learn on your own is key.
That is why, at every stage of your career, you need to be passionate about learning and acquiring new skills. If you’re a sales manager now, start thinking like an executive. Ask your job to provide training, job shadowing, or classes to help you develop your career, and remember that you can learn an incredible amount from your superiors by simply asking them about your process. While doing this, you can also develop your responsibilities, and treat your sales manager job as a class for your future career as an executive.
Apply creativity to everything you do
If you’re aiming for a career as a sales executive, chances are you haven’t given much thought to the creative element of your job. But, being creative in everything you do gives you the power to lead a team, be flexible, and find solutions.
The most successful enterprises are ones that break the rules, find a new way to do things, and get creative with their approach to everything. The best executives are ones who are flexible, and creative in their approach to sales, and how they manage their teams. The world of sales changes depending on your market, your resources, your teams, and the reception of your audience, and the demands of executive are just as wide-ranging and demanding. Getting used to acting creatively will help you approach any problem and see the best solution.
Get comfortable with failure
Like many people, you may feel that mistakes and failures are indications that you are not “cut out” for certain things, and that stumbling blocks are a bad sign. But the truth is, none of us can learn without making mistakes and failing a bit along the way. The most successful people are those who are most open to trying, failing, and trying again.
If you are hoping to move from sales manager to sales executive, one certainty you need to reconcile yourself with is the fact that you will fail. You will make mistakes, and you will have really bad days, and even weeks. The key thing here is to learn how to get back up when something knocks you down, and persist in the face of failure. We all make mistakes, it is how we recover that shows the difference between leaders and followers.
Learn to sing your own praises
Some people suffer in their careers because they expect their work to speak for itself. In many cases – it does, and sales targets are easy ways to point to your success as a sales manager. When you’re working as a sales executive however, your achievements are slightly more intangible in some ways – and that’s why it is important that you learn to make your value known to your employers.
Keep track of your achievements, goals you achieve and exceed, and make sure your superiors know about them. If you’re going for a new job, a raise,a promotion, you’ll have these things handy as a way to present your worth. When opportunities arise, you’ll be poised to take advantage, and already in mind with your superiors. You’ll look forward to every performance review and enjoy the chance to try new things.