When you look at the title you likely are focusing on the back half of it – “the stellar to effective” part. But let me be clear – the only way to have that part happen starts at the beginning with “you must change.”
If you got past the title and are still reading you are wearing one of three hats:
- The prospective, aspiring leader – you are selling now but believe/hope leadership is in your future.
- The leader in the transition – you are currently making this shift, or you’ve made it and aren’t sure it went so well
- The organizational leader – you are thinking about how to help others make this transition.
I am writing for all of you.
Three Parts to Your Success
Success in any role, including leadership, comes from a combination and alignment of three components:
- Mindset – the beliefs and perspectives that guide and govern your actions and choices
- Skillset – the skills that you have and use to do your work
- Habitset – the habits that support current and developing skills and behaviors
In the transition to leadership, there are certainly new skills to learn and approaches required to lead others. These skills are often talked about and perhaps are even taught as you move into a new role. Unfortunately, while most focus on skills that might need to be honed, that isn’t enough, or even the first place you must start.
Where You Must Start
Let’s start with the most basic idea. If you don’t believe you can lead successfully, how successful will you be? This profound question highlights why, as you transition from sales to leadership that you must consider the mindsets that will be required for you to succeed.
The next logical question is, what are the mindsets one must consider?
I’m glad you asked.
The Mindsets You Must Change
When I say these are mindsets you must change, I am being a bit presumptuous, because I don’t know your current mindsets. But I do know the mindsets that it takes to be a successful salesperson – and chances are you are one or were one (or are thinking about promoting people who are). So I will start from there and explore some mindsets that will likely need to shift for you to be as successful in your new role as you were in your last one.
- Your role is to coach, not sell. You are good at selling, but that isn’t your role (or your only role) now. How do/will you respond when a member of your team has a challenge with a deal? If you have a salesperson’s mindset you will step in and help make the sale. That may be fun and may even be effective, but is that your role now? Is that the approach that will help you succeed in your new role (and help your sales team grow too)?
- Your worldview must be strategic. As a salesperson you likely were thinking about the next deal and the next commission. I’m not saying you didn’t think strategically about your relationship with your Customer or prospect, but chances are the time horizon you considered was shorter than it needs to be now. As a leader must have a longer-term perspective. This is needed for Customer relationships, the direction of the business, and the development of your sales team members.
- You have internal and external customers. As a salesperson your focus, rightly so, is on your customer – the person buying the products and services you are selling. As a leader you have far more customers than the paying one. First and foremost, your team members. Do you see that they need and deserve the attention and focus you previously placed on your customers and prospects? Until you make that shift in focus you may struggle in your leadership role.
This isn’t a complete list, and again, I don’t know your personal starting point. It is likely at least one of these will resonate with you – and hopefully thinking about these will help you think of others you need to consider.
I said I would talk to you regardless of which hat you were wearing – and hopefully you found perspective in help in what I have shared. To close, let me give a specific next step to you, related to that initial perspective:
- The prospective, aspiring leader – think about these ideas. Think about what you can do to alter your perspective and mindset. If you don’t like thee ideas, maybe you should consider whether sales leadership is your desired path.
- The leader in the transition – how are you feeling about these ideas? Perhaps the dissonance between your current mindset and these is why you are struggling – or perhaps it clarifies why you like leading a sales team so much.
- The organizational leader – consider how you can add these mindset ideas into your expectations for new leaders and integrate this conversation into your training for new sales leaders.
It takes more than skills to lead – when you consider mindsets like these first you set the table for greater leadership success sooner.