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6 Things Junior Sales Reps Can Do To Advance Their Careers

6 Things Junior Sales Reps Can Do To Advance Their Careers

For sales reps who hope to advance into management one day, the biggest mistake they make is assuming that if they focus on their sales performance and consistently exceed their quotas, a promotion will be all but guaranteed in the future. What the junior sales reps fail to understand is that selling and managing are two very distinct skill sets, and that success in one does not indicate competence in the other.

In addition to being a rockstar with their sales responsibilities, junior reps need to demonstrate to the leadership team that they will be able to transition into management smoothly if they hope to move up the ladder.

Luckily, there are numerous opportunities to prove this capacity in the course of an average sales rep’s day-to-day work.

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1. Request cross-training opportunities with the finance team

If you’re interested in moving up to a sales manager and director position one day, you’ll need to become familiar with the overall financial workings of the company, including how revenue collected from sales activities affects the organization’s margins and cash flows.

Managers and executives use this information to help them make high-level strategic decisions about the direction of their unit. And there’s no better way to get a crash course than by shadowing members of the finance and accounting team.

You’ll have the opportunity to see how collecting receivables, paying invoices, payroll management, forecasting, and budget control all work in concert to affect every function of the organization.

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2. Take advantage of all possible professional development opportunities

If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers employees the opportunity to attend professional development training courses, whether they are online or in-person, attending them whenever possible will help you build the skill sets you need to advance your career.

While many companies will mandate courses related to your core duties, they also frequently provide optional access to content that teaches skills outside your normal function, including management training. If your company doesn’t offer ongoing development opportunities, let your supervisors know that it’s something that you feel is important to your future with the organization and take the time to seek out resources on your own.

3. Study the relationship between the sales and marketing functions

As the realities for B2B buyers continue to evolve, the necessity of harmony between the sales and marketing units crystallizes. The average B2B buying cycle is now fraught with complexity, yet many organizations are still lacking in the level of alignment they expect between the two departments: upwards of 80% of marketing leads can go unused by sales reps, and only 27% of leads sent down the pipeline are sales qualified.

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While many reps are content to take what marketing gives them and make up the gap on their own, sales professionals who work to understand the role of marketing on a deeper level and strengthen the bond between the two departments could help the company significantly increase revenue and productivity.

4. Commit to a leadership role within your team

What many sales reps don’t understand is that you don’t have to wait for someone to offer you a promotion to demonstrate your capacity for leadership. Every employee in the company, regardless of their job function or place on the organizational chart, has opportunities every day to act like a leader without being asked.

For sales reps, this can mean becoming a knowledge hub for some program that the sales team relies on or some skill that is useful in the company’s sales process. Your colleagues can then come to you for help or additional training, lessening the burden on the management staff and positioning you as someone who can coach your fellow reps to success.

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5. Research various selling styles

Most reps learn early on what selling style works for them personally and many are uninterested in deviating from their process. If it works for them, the clients, and the company, they don’t need to spend time learning about how other reps sell, but sales managers and directors don’t have that luxury.

They have to manage, mentor and coach a variety of different personalities and employees with vastly divergent methods for selling, and they have to understand how best to motivate each one.

6. Demonstrate your dedication to the company culture

Most forward-thinking leaders inherently understand that building a strong company culture throughout the organization is a key factor in sustained success.

A well-defined and positive culture leads to more satisfied employees and increased profits over the long term. As a sales rep who is eager to advance, you have to show your leadership team that you are committed to strengthening and fostering the organizational culture no matter where you fit in the hierarchy.

Attend optional events, encourage your team members to participate in activities, and always embody the principles that your company culture values.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2018

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

I went through a personal experience that acted as a catalyst for an epiphany. When I got fired from a job, I learned something important about myself and where I was headed with my freelance career. I realized that the most important aspect of that one rather small job was the influence of the company owner. I realized that I wasn’t hurt that the company and I weren’t a perfect match; I was devastated by the stark fact that I needed a mentor and I had almost found one but lost her.

Suddenly, I felt like J.D., the main character in “Scrubs,” chasing Dr. Cox and trying to rip insight and wisdom from someone I respect. The realization that a recognized thought-leader and experienced entrepreneur severed ties with me felt crushing. But, I picked myself back up and thought about five ways to acquire a mentor without having the awkwardness of outright asking.

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1. Remember, a professional mentorship must be mutual.

A professional mentor must agree to engage in a mutual relationship because, as the comedy T.V. series showed us, one simply cannot force someone to tutor us. We have to prove that we are worth the time investment through persistence and dedication to the craft.

2. You have to have common interests with your mentor.

Even if a professional mentor appears at your job or school, realize that unless you and this person have common interests, you won’t find the relationship successful. I’ve been in situations where someone I respected had vastly different ideas about what was important in life or what one should spend his or her free time doing. If these things don’t line up, you may find the relationship won’t be as fruitful, even when the mentor knows a great deal about one industry.

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3. Thought-leaders will respect your passion.

One of the ways you can prove yourself worthy to a professional mentor is through your passion and your dedication. No one wants to spend time grooming and teaching another who will not take advice or put the effort in to improve. When following thought-leaders on Twitter and trying to engage with higher-ups in a work setting, realize that your actions most often speak louder than your words.

4. Before worrying if he respects you, ask if you respect him.

On the other side of the coin, you should seriously reflect on those common interests and make sure you respect your professional mentor. Just because someone holds a title, degree or office does not mean that person is trustworthy or honest. Don’t be swayed by appearances and take the time to find a suitable professional mentor.

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5. Failure is often the best way to learn

I honestly have made more mistakes than I can count. I know I’ve learned a great deal from poorly organized businesses and my own poor choices. The most important quality I’ve developed is an ability to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes. If life knocks me down nine times, I get back up 10 times. One of the songs Megadeth wrote, “Of Mice and Men,” resonates in my mind when I pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again for a goal I’ve set: “So live your life and live it well. There’s not much left of me to tell. I just got back up each time I fell.” Hopefully, this brief post can act as a professional mentor to you in your quest to find not only a brave leader but also a trusted adviser.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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