Okay, I must admit, the title for this
week’s post is a little odd for a sales related blog. But, I’ve been reading
several pieces recently about kids preparing for college. While I still have a
couple of years before my oldest takes off, I have friends whose kids
should be receiving their college acceptance letters soon. And, a few of the
pieces I’ve read recently talk about the old idea of leaving the nest. You’ve
done your best as a parent, provided guidance, and now it is time for your
children to prepare to be on their own.
In much the same way there comes a time
when the torch of sales management needs to be passed along. It should go
without saying that you don’t promote someone into a management role and
abandon them, but like the parent, you should guide to the point where they can
leave the safety of the nest and be on their own.
I’ve been quite fortunate over the
course of my career to mentor younger sales people toward success. Whether in a
big brotherly way or as a manager, I’ve always tried to instill certain values
in my sales people, so they too can appreciate being career minded sales
professionals. Every so often I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and guide
others into management roles. Some of these individuals have gone on to greater
success than my own while a few weren’t necessarily cut out for being in a
management role overseeing others. How do you know when the time is right to
encourage the new sales manager to leave the nest?
I have been working closely with a
freelance client over the past month while at the same time facing this
situation directly. I’ve been able to use my own, direct experiences to help
guide my client. It is almost one year since I promoted a senior level sales
person to the role of VP of Sales. Similar to my client, I was much more
day-to-day hands-on, and recently have backed off. In essence, I went from
being turned to almost every day of the week for guidance, to now being
utilized for 30 minutes once per week for a simple review session. The time has
come that he leaves the nest.
I’m certainly not implying that he is or
should leave the organization. Quite the opposite in fact. My VP of Sales, like
the sales manager at my client, has achieved a level of success that confirms
we made the right promotion decisions. However, what I am inferring is my VP of
Sales no longer needs me to be his day-to-day (or even once per week)
supervisor, but instead he can now stand on his own, make his own executive
level decisions, and grow into a mature (seasoned) sales manager.
The signs have been there for some time.
I could see his maturity growing for months as each sales opportunity was
getting bigger and more complex. The key to where we are now is the ability to
manage his own sales while mentoring others. It is a balancing act to say the
least. A truly competent and successful sales manager is someone that can
juggle their own calendar while assisting others in their sales efforts. It
does not come easy and requires a lot of patience. But, once this milestone is
reached and maintained for a few months, then and only then are you ready to
leave the nest. Sales management skills are in place and it is time to increase