Seems like a natural enough stepping stone.
The successful wholesaler migrates from carrying a bag into management.
So what could go wrong? Plenty.
What’s The Motivation?
Too frequently wholesalers decide that management is the next stop on the career train simply because they want to stop the day to day grind of calling on advisor clients.
Their motivation is linear in thought: I’ve wholesaled for ___ years so management must be the next logical step.
Sadly these wholesalers, and the firms that promote them, fail to explore the deeper motivation for wanting to take the management plunge.
Great managers are excellent trainers, coaches, mentors and motivators. How committed are you to developing your management muscle in each of these disciplines?
Unfortunately our industry does a poor job of screening management candidates for these core motivators.
Align Your Expectations with the Reality of the Job
Travel: Thinking that your travel load will decrease? Think again.
A good divisional manager will spend time with each of their wholesalers once per quarter – and most divisionals have 8-12 folks.
While a ride-along in the wholesaler’s region won’t be done each quarter (vs. sales meetings), it’s easy to see how the travel adds up fast, especially when you add in home office visits, client meetings, conferences, etc.
Compensation: If you’re a wholesaler good enough to be considered for management it would infer that you have been in the upper echelons of production for your firm. That, it’s generally safe to assume, is accompanied by solid annual compensation.
While managers make a good distribution living, top flight wholesalers (top quartile) often make more.
If you’re jumping into the management world solely for the money, think again.
Serving Many Masters: Even in a world where wholesalers need to collaborate more than ever in the sales process (think specialists), wholesaling is, generally, a solo sport.
And though you were a team player as a wholesaler, as a manager you’ll need to engage those talents in a far bigger way.
Your decisions as a manager need to be made in consideration of your team, your boss, your partner departments and your firm.
Establishing Your Management Style/Philosophy
Sometimes you’ll get promoted by a firm that is committed to the development of new managers.
Most of the time you are on your own.
What mentors do you have/will you seek out that will help guide you along the management path?
Are there recommended books that you should be reading that will help you form the foundation of your management style?
So many great podcasts are available to help you learn just about anything. Which ones will help you shape your management skills?
[Subscribe to The NEW Wholesaler Masterminds Radio Show Podcast]
Learning The Ropes
So much of what a divisional manager does simply was not ever covered in wholesaler school (whatever that is!). As a result, newly minted managers have to learn skills such as these on the fly :
Carving Out/Up Territories: It used to be that you simply took care of your own region.
Now you need to create the fine balance between the number of selling agreements, active sellers, prospects, and overall opportunity set of all the folks in your division.
This work includes your ability to analyze and dissect territories in order to form equitable and fair regions that serve both the firm and the wholesalers who will work those regions.
No small task.
Creating/Implementing Comp Plans: Yes, comp plans are devised by both management and finance folks.
That said, you’ll now be asked to provide insights and thoughtful analysis into the moving parts of your teams’ comp plans.
All the while you’ll need to keep all of the constituents in mind (see Serving Many Masters above).
Performance Reviews: Depending on your firm, you will be asked to perform annual (and sometimes quarterly) performance reviews of the wholesalers in your division.
Can you have a tough conversation with an under-performer?
Can you offer meaningful insights to top echelon wholesalers that will aid them in their pursuit of greatness?
Are your written skills up to the task of properly memorializing the review?
Ride-alongs: Here’s a fact – most divisional managers do a rotten job of using the time spent observing wholesalers performance in the field to help the wholesaler become better at what they do.
How will you add value to your team when you visit them one on one?
Staff Sales Calls: You know the drill. Every Friday or Monday you descend into the conference call netherworld.
You half listen and half participate, all while wading thorough your inbox.
Now pretend for a moment that you are the host of that call, the manager you hope to be.
What will you do to make that call a valuable use of time for the participants that have called in?
How will you control the request from home office folks that want to
1) get input and/or
2) share a new development and/or
3) provide a compulsory piece of information (e.g. compliance), etc.?
Effective Sales Meetings: Not unlike the weekly staff sales call, it will be easy for your quarterly/semiannual/annual divisional meeting to devolve into a cavalcade of the usual suspects all wanting time on your agenda:
Sales force marketing
How will you manage the allotted time, keep wholesalers engaged, and provide the vital information that needs to be communicated?
Working on Home Office Projects Teams: The good news is you work for a firm that wants to make thoughtful decisions, decisions that include input from the sales folks in the field.
The challenging part is that you will be asked to spend time on various project teams that, though they will provide high value for the firm, will suck time out of your already slammed calendar.
How will you manage both your time and your commitment to working on these vital teams?
Business Planning and Review: Let’s face it, as a wholesaler your annual business planning was lackluster at best.
Now you’ve raised your hand for a role that requires you to provide data that affects the firm’s top and bottom line.
Projecting sales revenue (and re-forecasting quarterly), expense trends, and providing your leaders with a clear window into your region’s performance and future outlook are all part of the job.
Compliance: Wholesaler on your team submitting iffy receipts, creating/distributing their own sales ideas, or being negligent in submitting their call notes?
Guess who’s on the hook for these…yes, you.
As a wholesaler, you abided by the rules.
Now, as a manager, you need to make sure everyone else does too.
Working with an Admin: You’ve been flying solo for years.
Now you have an admin that is available to assist you. What will you assign them?
How will you amplify your time by effectively using theirs?
360 Degrees: Playing Well with Others
Managing Up: Make no mistake about it, managing the relationship between you and your boss (and other senior leaders in your firm) is both an art and a constant work in progress.
Done well, you reap career rewards.
Done poorly and you’ll be a short lived divisional.
Managing Across: Part of the determining your success as a leader will come from input offered by other leaders in the firm.
These leaders will be found in your area of responsibility (distribution sales), as well as all the other areas that you face off against weekly.
How will you proactively cultivate mutually productive relationships across leaders in the firm?
Managing Down: We’ve all been exposed to an assortment of leadership styles:
What sort of leader do you aspire to be?
One Final Thought: Zebra’s Don’t Change Their Stripes
It all starts with how well you perform at the job you have today.
If you are late on expenses, need to be hounded to enter your call notes, unwilling to speak up on sales calls, disrespectful to home office personnel, guilty of compliance missteps etc., today, you won’t change those stripes when you’re promoted.
As a result, you’ll be among the Peter Principle leaders that wholesalers constantly gripe about: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
If, on the other hand, you are a Franchise Player today [read: 6 Ways Wholesalers Become Franchise Players] you are well positioned for great career success as you ascend the corporate ladder.
At Wholesaler Masterminds we work with sales leaders to further develop skills that enable them to become vital assets to their firm.
For more information, let’s set up a call to discuss. Please contact us here.