What to Know & Do if Considering Sales Management vs Going to/Staying in the Field

Hi UWS achievers- welcome to cooler weather! Since most of us, sooner or later, will probably ask ourselves Whitney Houston’s famous question, “How Will I Know,” in regard to being a sales individual contributor or manager, I interviewed Carlie Adams, a longtime sales professional at Podium who’s been on both sides for her perspective & advice.  Thanks for your insights, Carlie! To everyone else- I hope this helps & enjoy! 

Will you summarize your career in sales so far i.e. why you got into it & what you did before becoming a sales manager?

My first job out of college was recruiting for a university and I quickly realized I gravitated towards sales. I enjoy the challenging, competitive nature of sales, selling a product that solves pain points for a business, and I am highly motivated by a commission structure. I took my first Account Executive role 7 years ago and then moved into a sales leadership position within the company. After four years at that company, in 2016, I accepted a position as an Account Executive working with small businesses at a fast growing SaaS start up in the valley, Podium. In 2018, I took a sales leadership position within Podium building and developing a new sales team.  And in 2019 I transitioned into a mid-market Account Executive role working with large healthcare companies to help them attract new patients, connect efficiently, and retain them.

Before becoming a sales manager, why did you feel becoming a sales manager might be the right move for you personally, career-wise, etc.?

At the beginning of my sales career, sales leadership wasn’t on my radar. With time, I realized that I had a knack for being able to identify areas of improvement for reps and provide training and coaching to them. 

I worked really hard in my current position, developed strong professional relationships with my team and other departments within the organization. And I became a "go to person" for help or advice by my peers. My VP at the time said the #1 thing he looks for when promoting a new sales leader from within is someone the rest of the team goes to with questions and training. 

What have you learned/realized since that you'd recommend others considering a similar move research or explore?

I think it’s important to realize that you don’t have to have a formal sales leadership title in order to be a leader within your sales organization. Locker room leaders and individuals that build, contribute, and can lead their peers are the most valuable people you’ll have on your team. Don’t wait for a title to make change within your organization, innovate, and help everyone around you get better. 

What do you feel it takes to be an excellent sales manager?

Time. In my experience, it’s easy to look at data, run numbers, and point out that someone missed quota. Running a report and sharing number with your reps is not hard. You need to use data and run reports, it’s important to look at data to help reps improve and have a holistic view of the rep's performance. But investing time to train, mentor, lead, and develop reps is where you should spend your time and moves the needle the most. That makes an excellent sales manager. Investing time in your reps, their process, their pitch, etc. will be the biggest difference in their overall performance and job satisfaction. 

Which are the best resources for people considering becoming sales managers e.g. publications, peers, etc.?

-Have a mentor and or sponsor to help you with your career development 

-Books to read: Crucial Conversations, Multipliers, Mindset

-Set goals for yourself and your career to work towards

-Be solution oriented and have a positive mindset 

-Manage up: Work with your current sales leader/manager and communicate your career goals. Ask for additional projects, leadership opportunities, training opportunities to develop your leadership skills. 

Which actions would you recommend others who want to get into sales management take to help them best navigate that path? 

Same answer as above.

Todd Lamoreaux