Challenging yourself and pushing for the next big win comes naturally to most salespeople – after all, without that inherent desire to succeed it’s going to be pretty tricky to forge a career in the profession.
Everyone knows that the key to a successful organisation lies in its people. With that in mind, it’s in a company’s best interests to retain their best staff. For many employees and managers, this often comes down to financial incentives such as salary raises and bonuses.
However, money on its own often isn’t enough to keep you invested in an organisation. If you’ve reached a stage in your career where you think you’re ready for an increase in responsibility, it’s time to take charge of the situation and put the wheels in motion to step up to that next rung on the ladder. Here’s how to get a promotion in sales:
Step 1 – Excel in your role by hitting sales targets and developing strategic accounts
The mistake many people make when entering into discussions around promotion is assuming that length of service has any relevance on their right to a more prestigious role. In sales positions especially, performance matters and that means both hitting your targets and developing strategic accounts.
The difference between a good employee and a good manager is being able to think about the bigger picture – how your immediate actions will have a positive or negative impact on the long-term future of the business.
You should be spending as much time as you can on bringing in new leads and demonstrating to your existing clients that you’re a valuable strategic partner for them.
Step 2 – Show your ability to nurture and mentor
Motivational and leadership skills are highly valued in the professional world, and have been cited by advertising and marketing executives as the most important factors when promoting people to management positions.
A promotion will invariably mean you’re put in charge of a team of people, who will hopefully be able to soak up some of your wisdom. But how will your manager know when you’re ready for this responsibility and all the pressures that it brings?
If you’re already managing people, that’s easy to show. Make sure you’re on the ball with periodic reviews, and you’re setting and supporting personal development plans for each of your team members. The quality of their work is a direct reflection on you, so make sure you’re aware of any individual successes that will in turn help your cause.
If you’re not officially anyone’s line manager, that doesn’t mean you can’t show off common management traits. Put your hand up to show any new recruits the ropes and be liberal with advice when people need advice on areas such as handling tricky customers or how to follow up leads.
Step 3 – Make a name for yourself
There’s a well-known tactic of dressing for the job you want rather than the job you have, and while it may not be as simple as wearing a sharper suit to secure a promotion, there’s something to be said for being perceived in the right way.
If you’re only ever fraternising with your peers and just attending low-level decision making sessions, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to ever see you outside of the role you’re in. You can’t just barge in and take a seat at the next management meeting, but you can start to make relationships with people that matter internally. Show your commitment to the organisation and become more visible within the company and you’ll likely be recognised by key decision makers.
At first that may need to be as simple as asking how their weekend was, then gradually raising your profile by asking for opportunities to share the results of recent good work or taking on lead roles in the ad hoc projects that spring up.
Step 4 – Broaden your skillset and knowledge
Most companies and teams will have a defined training budget, but few are good at actually telling their employees about all the opportunities that are available to them. Of course you want to hone your sales techniques and negotiation expertise, but what other strings can you add to your bow?
How about improving your copywriting so your emails to clients come across in a punchier fashion? What about undertaking a data analysis course that will help you interpret sales figures to show clients better ROI? Additional languages will always come in handy; even if your current company doesn’t have international clients, they may well do in the future.
The more you know, the more people will come to you with questions, and the more opportunities you’ll have to show you’re ready to step up.
Step 5 – Put together your pitch
While there are exceptions to the “if you don’t ask you don’t get” rule, generally the onus is on you to develop your career so be prepared to ask your boss to discuss your future.
Knowing your value to the business is an invaluable card to be holding, however you should make it clear this is more about the responsibility than the financial reward. Yes, you may naturally be in line for more money when you get a promotion, however if that’s your primary motivation then you’re not doing it for the right reasons, and they’re likely to see through that.
Your case should be built up of a combination of past successes, current tasks that lie outside of your official remit, and plans for what you’d like to implement if they agree you’re worthy of a more prestigious job title.
If they do, don’t forget that’s when the real hard work begins!
Are you ready to rise to the challenge in 2020 and secure that coveted promotion? Follow our steps to help get ahead.
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