When I first became a manager in an estate agents it was for one reason only – I’d proved to my employer that I could sell property.
It had nothing to do with demonstrating managerial skills (for which by the way, in my early twenties, I had none).
That was the mid-1980s and hopefully we are more enlightened now, realising that a good salesperson doesn’t always make a good manager without training.
But what qualities does it take to make the transition from sales negotiator to manager?
The easiest place to start is to compare what skills both jobs require. This could be an endless list so let’s keep it to the most obvious.
A salesperson needs to be hungry to succeed, target focused, knowledgeable and able to listen, understand and meet the needs of the customer.
It’s a bonus if they are also fearless in their pursuit of a sale, ready to work every hour necessary and be able to creatively resolve problems during a sale.
Looking at this list, in many ways a property sales person is probably more focused on personal achievement rather than being a team player.
Now compare this with the skills a manager needs: the ability to plan, organise, achieve organisational targets, manage and support staff, communicate, influence and act with fairness. They will probably also be a leader of people and a role model rather than someone who just ‘manages’ people.
Chalk and cheese?
On first inspection then, the roles of sales person and manager couldn’t be more different. The salesperson’s mentality is often centred on their own performance. The manager’s is more about the team and organisation.
Even where there are similarities such as achieving targets, both roles are still poles apart: the salesperson’s interest is focused on their own performance while the manager must take a wider ‘team’ perspective.
So are there no existing skills a sales person can cling on to when thrust into the position of manager?
Fortunately, there are two, and together they will give you a solid foundation on which to build your future managerial success.
The first is a genuine regard for people.
Successful sales people and managers both put people first. For example:
- a sales person focuses on the needs of the customer while a manager creates a positive office environment for staff to grow and be successful
- a salesperson goes the extra mile to resolve a customer’s problem while a manager treats all staff as individuals and with respect.
Both roles require the needs of others to be considered.
The second similarity between sales person and manager is acting with integrity. For example, both jobs require that you are
- fair with people
- treat people as individuals
- understand their point of view
- offer support even when things get difficult
No salesperson or manager will find long-term success without the above, and integrity is definitely a characteristic that a sales person can bring to their new managerial position.
The answer is?
So what can we learn from this? It is possible to take a great sales person and transform them into a great manager.
It is a shame that I and perhaps others like me were dropped in at the deep end as managers with little to help us apart from our sales skills.
And that just isn’t enough. If you fared as well as I did then, my sympathies because I fared pretty badly. It took a lot of arguments with staff, miserable days at work and much soul searching before I realised I needed help.
I wonder if I am alone in this?
Fortunately, these days there are property organisations taking management training seriously. They should be applauded for this.
But if, like me all those years ago, you find yourself promoted to a management position but lacking the necessary skills, then don’t wait too long to get trained.
You will feel a whole lot better for it and will be a far more effective manager.
Paul Jager works for MOL who provide a variety of training in property and management. He can be contacted on 0161 674 1161.