4 Things a Sales Manager Needs to Do to Get Promoted

January 29, 2012 at 7:00 AM

“Why do some sales managers get promoted and others just change companies never moving up the ladder? How can a sales manager get promoted to a director or VP?  What does it take to move to the next level?”  I get asked these questions every week. Everyone wants to know what the ‘secret sauce’ is to get more responsibility and fatter paychecks.

The Statistics are pretty compelling to make the move.  Getting the bigger gig has average OTE (On Target Earnings) increase by 1.4X-3x what a Sales Manager makes.  When I moved from a Sales Manager to a Director of Sales, my OTE jumped 1.5X.  When I moved from a Director to a VP, it moved another 1.5X.  And when I moved to a SVP of Sales it reached 3.5X what I made as a SM.

But the number of Sales Managers that get promoted is slim.  Out of 100 Sales Managers, only 32 get promoted to a Director.   Of the 100 SMs, 17 make it to a Director of Sales and only 9 make it to a SVP/VP of Sales.  (Similar to professional sports!). 

What can you do to get ahead?

4 Ways a Sales Manager Needs to Get Promoted:

1) - Make the Number.   Let’s face it.  You need to make your quota.  In fact, you have to ‘blow it out’.   We have numerous blog posts on how to exceed your quota.  But overall: focus on a sales process mapped to a buying process, recruit great talent and have coaching become a way of life.

2) - Communicate Effectively.  Most people really screw up communication.  Effective communicators get ahead in life.  They understand how important it is to get the desired behaviors from your team immediately. Usually with one message.  This is the real way to get superior performance.  There are numerous ways to communicate and some key best practices to ensure effective communication happens.  Take this seriously.

sales manager communication

3) - Recruit ‘A’ Talent.  Nothing takes the place of great talent. 50% of your effectiveness is the talent you have on the team and the performance conditions you place that talent in. Consistently push for upgrading the team.  Recruit the best people.  You can never stop recruiting for top talent.  SMs that get promoted have a pipeline of people that can replace them. Many VPs of Sales have told me they won’t promote a SM because there is no one to take their spot. Don’t be this person.

4) - Manage your Time.  Everyone has the same amount of time.  Why can more people get things done in a day then others?  One answer: Time Management.  Ask any VP of Sales how they got there… great time management. We call this life hacking. Tip:  The blur between work and personal time is nonexistent. No longer can you just work Monday – Friday from 8AM to 5 PM.  If you are going to have an ideal life, you must manage your time.

4.5) - Continuous Education.  Sales People who get promoted never stop learning.  We call it new capability acquisition.  We are fanatics about it at SBI and judge ourselves on what we are learning.  Promotable people never stop ‘gaining new capabilities.’ Some questions to ask yourself if you are continuously being educated:

  • Do you have a LinkedIn account and active on it?
  • Do you read over 15 blogs a week on sales and marketing including demand generation?  (The cold call is dead)
  • Can you tell me your Klout score?
  • How well do you participate in social media?
    • Leads from LinkedIn have a 49x higher conversion rate than Google
  • What metric can you tell me has improved in your business in the last quarter acting on what you read recently?
  • If you can’t answer these questions, ask yourself Are you pedaling faster?

Getting promoted takes perseverance.  It takes keeping your eye on the strategy while executing the tactics.  It requires doing what your boss wants you to do.  In the book, Success for Dummies, it clearly states to get promoted, do what your boss wants you to do.  Don’t forget this simple rule.

sales manager communication 2One of my former sales reps who I hired years ago just got promoted to a VP of Sales for a major consumer products maker. I couldn’t be more proud of Bryan Fry. Why did Bryan get promoted? Perseverance, intelligence and great competencies come to mind.  But a lot of people have these. What made Bryan stand out was pretty simple:  consistently making his numbers, vigorous attention to learning, effective communication, superior time management and always looking for the next superstar to bring on his team.  It took years for him to accomplish this goal and get the big gig. It wasn’t easy.  He could have given up.  But Bryan always remained focused on the 5 core fundamentals stated above. 

Want to make the big move?  Get your priorities in line.  Focus on what’s important. 

Need help with one of the 4:  Onboarding Top Talent.  Attend our next webinar and get started.

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Topics: Sales Management

Posted by Dan Perry

Dan Perry
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