To get an insider’s perspective on what it takes to move into sales management, Alex Balme of our New York office spoke with Li Murty, VP of Strategic Accounts at Moravia.
In almost all walks of professional life, from engineering to production, the step from individual contribution to management and group leadership is a common career ambition.
Sales is no different, and many of the sales professionals Adaptive works with across the language services industry are interested in learning how they can move towards an opportunity to not only add their own sales quota to the corporate pile, but reinvest their experience in helping to train, direct and motivate a sales team towards success.
What traits do you look for in a manager vs a pure BDM?
Li: The best sales managers I have worked with are self-starters and have good communication skills. They communicate proactively, and the message they send is the message which gets conveyed.
Their team doesn’t lose time interpreting mixed signals. Naturally they bring a good track record of personal achievement, but they are also very creative in engaging people and closing deals. Some BDMs are great at opening doors, but can’t close.
You need to have faith that a senior team lead can be relied upon to come up with a closing strategy. Energy level is also key – you don’t want someone with too much energy who overwhelms the team, but they also have to inspire.
Another trait often overlooked is being able to walk away from deals that aren’t the right fit – this can be difficult even on an individual level, so managing a team pipeline requires strength here to hit larger goals.
Looking from the other perspective, what are indicators to you that someone is not ready to be a manager?
Li: Not taking ownership, and always having an excuse if something doesn’t go well.
I’m also on the lookout to assess ability to reflect on what went wrong – if someone finds this difficult, it’s clear that they are still too focused on themselves and aren’t able to take in a wide enough set of factors to function well in a team-lead capacity.
How important is personal performance in your evaluation?
Li: It is definitely important – if you don’t have the track record, you won’t have the credibility. But it is not everything, and people can be close minded if too absorbed in their own success – this can mean they won’t think of new ways or work with others on their strengths.
Success in sales isn’t one-size-fits-all, so versatility is a must along with strong personal results. In some organizations a great individual track record may get you the job, but won’t guarantee you get to keep it or you will be any good at it.
What can someone do to position themselves better to take the next step?
Li: Taking initiative, and looking to take on more responsibility. Also finding opportunities to mentor is a great way to build the base skills and also develop internal credibility for promotion opportunities.
Networking within an organization is also important – sales is a networking industry, so building rapports and openings with the right people internally is a must. Not being scared to speak up is also valuable – if you want to be chosen as a leader, you can’t be anonymous!
Alex Balme is the New York Regional Director at Adaptive Globalization. He recruits for sales professionals at all levels, from junior inside associates up to VPs, as well as sales engineers. Feel free to reach out to him on LinkedIn for a networking conversation.
Tel: (646) 504 5980
E-Mail: alex.balme (@) adaptiveglobalization.com
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