One of the things that amaze me the most in Portugal is the lack of specific training that people who rise to the position of Commercial Director have.
The career management of these profiles is still looked upon with a significant lack of professionalism.
If the former salesperson had a good role model or a good mentor, they would probably get by and even do a good job.
If this has not happened, the probability of things going wrong is very high.
The sales role is not compatible with what the now head or sales director has to have in terms of resources.
In addition to this, there is the paradigm of working in a very isolated way before and now having to work more as a team.
There are several strategies that we can use to promote a salesperson to the position of manager or commercial director.
The first strategy is internal mentoring.
Having someone in the company who can accompany you, guide you, and advise you on how to lead your new challenge in the future.
If it can be a person from the area, better, but sometimes this is impossible.
I remember a client of ours that was promoted because his Commercial Director left for a new company, practically without warning.
In these circumstances, one option might be to allocate one of the company’s most experienced team leaders as his mentor.
The second strategy is that of an external mentor.
In these cases, a mentor with business management experience can be hired and take the internal mentor’s place.
Although it is not a cheap process, compared to the costs of having a bad manager or business direction in place, you will surely agree with me that it is perhaps preferable.
It also has the advantage that it is not as threatening to the now boss or business management because it is an external person.
When selecting an external mentor, be very careful to ask for references for specific work you have done in this area.
There are many areas where mentoring can be done, also sometimes erroneously referred to as coaching.
The term is not consensual and is so broad that it is confusing for a client to decide whether it is a good option.
However, they can ask a few questions that will quickly allow them to understand if this person is worth betting on.
The first is about the person’s training as a mentor.
Suppose the person only has training and certification as a “Life Coach” or something similar. In that case, they likely lack the necessary experience to help you with the challenges of a management or business direction.
Not that they are bad professionals, they may even be excellent professionals. Still, they may lack a bit of adherence to reality since the methodology is not geared towards “Business” but rather towards the more personal part.
Preferably choose someone whose experience, training, and certification is in business areas, not something so personal. At least, it will be a reasonably significant advantage.
Finally, try to understand the person’s professional experience before starting the mentoring experience.
Having had commercial experience and having also successfully gone through the progression to a managerial or commercial management career will be a great asset.
Also published on Medium.