In a recent Focus Fifteen Coaching session (Use the code 100OFF to SAVE $100), Coach Rob was working with a client who was wishing to clarify their career thoughts about whether to pursue a divisional role in the future, or remain in a super successful wholesaling role.
Here’s some of that they discussed.
Client: I may have told you this before: the four or five managers I’ve had as a wholesaler had all been wholesalers previously, and each of them said, “I miss wholesaling,” when they got into management.
My gut tells me to listen to that and stick with what I know I’m good at, which is wholesaling.
I’m curious though, how would those paths look different? Path one is just continue to be driving to the top, to be a top earning wholesaler, versus a path towards a divisional and then maybe a national.
How would those paths differ in terms of preparation and action, because you’ve done it obviously.
Coach Rob: Is the question more about what to do now to prepare if you want to be a divisional, or is the thought more about helping you surface additional thoughts to consider when making your decision about wholesaling or going into management?
Client: Number two.
Coach Rob: Ok, in no particular order, here are some thoughts:
I don’t know how much you like bureaucracy, but you have to be prepared, especially in divisional management, for overwhelming heaps of bureaucracy.
I like to call divisionals of the center in the middle of the Oreo. They serve the wholesaler, who’s the bottom cookie and they have to balance what they do with the home office and national sales manager, that’s the top cookie, and they’re the white filling in between.
They’re always the gal/guy in the middle that is subject to crap rolling downhill. In the management ranks, divisional is the bottom of the hill. So you have to be prepared and have a appetite, no pun intended, for that role.
How much will you actually like managing? The fact is that most divisionals aren’t great at management. They are trying to apply the same skills that they had as wholesaler to manager and they’re completely different, though somewhat related, skill sets.
You’re now the guy/gal responsible for riding roughshod on expense reports, call reports, etc. So you have to make a decision. Do you want to be the guy/gal who needs to take a wholesaler by the back of the neck at the national sales meeting and have the frank conversation with them, because you got reporting that they were lighting farts on fire at the bar (which, by the way, is a true story).
On the flip side, if you do the job well and if you know how to mentor, motivate, coach, train, and model good behavior, it’s super rewarding because you get to make an imprint on folks that they’ll have with them for their entire careers.
Client: That’s the only part that intrigues me. I know there’s a lot of negatives to it, but that’s the part that gets me interested, at least.
Coach Rob: Well, you have to think long and hard about what your preferences are. Though let me say it another way, you can still have significant impacts upon other folks in your own organization – if you choose to, you can be a leader without the title.
What if you’re the guy that sends an email to welcome somebody new to the organization, welcome them to the team. Or you’re the guy that’s going to reach out when somebody does something extraordinary, perhaps has a $2 million trade.
You’re the guy that’s going to let it be known that if anybody wants to grab a virtual cup of coffee and talk about a particular bit of success they or you are having, you’re the first guy to do it.
You can still have some of the same impacts without the title.
Client: You’re right. I think this is affirming what I thought I knew. I guess the other point, and you have encouraged me to think about things in this new 2020 context, which is, in what position are you more vulnerable? Are you more vulnerable as a top wholesaler? Or are you more vulnerable as someone in middle management? I would say the answer should be pretty obvious.
You’re more vulnerable as a middle manager.
Coach Rob: Correct, and the asterisk on that is only if you are a top flight wholesaler who has an eye on the evolving horizon of distribution, then you should not only be just fine, you should be in demand.
If you understand how virtual wholesaling is not going away.
If you understand the demands of being more of an ambassador to the advisor to all the resources of your firm, versus the lone wolf of so many years ago.
If you understand and embrace the importance of data and how data is the backbone of the future of the business.
If you understand and embrace the role that marketing will play, when data is parsed and delivered correctly, and work with them in partnership.
Coach Rob: If you’re the guy/gal that gets all that and looks to advance the cause of that, you have a long, bright future.
If for some reason (it could be age, it could just be temperament, it could be the firm you came out of, it could be what your boss was like) you’re stuck in some paradigm of the past, whatever it is, label it as you want, you’ve got trouble coming at you five and 10 years down the road.
Coach Rob: The other consideration is what do you want the other part of your life that isn’t work to be like?
Because if you’re a divisional and you’ve got 10, 12, 14 guys and girls working for you, then you are not going to be home a lot. If you’re doing the job as it’s supposed to be done, underscore as it’s supposed to be done, which means you’re seeing your direct reports three or four times a year.
Client: Yeah, quarterly I would say, yeah.
Coach Rob: Right, you’re seeing them quarterly and some of those are going to be at meetings, right?
Coach Rob: But your cheeks are in their passenger seat two to three times a year.
You then have other responsibilities at the home office, which you’ll eventually need to go there for, we assume, at some point in the future.
You also have some responsibilities to the home offices of the firms that you serve. Now it depends on the organization you’re with. Some organizations don’t require divisionals to participate in the account management function. Other organizations do require and welcome the divisional to participate in key account functions, which means you may be the guy that’s going to go in and see senior leadership at Raymond James, in concert with your national sales manager, or in concert with your head of key accounts.
Client: That’s a lot.
Coach Rob: Of course it’s a lot.
Client: And most of that is national travel, not driving across my state travel, which is very different.
Coach Rob: Correct. And then the other notion is, what’s your earning potential?
Wholesaling today, circa 2020 is all over the map, in terms of compensation. I know a wholesaler that’s making $3 million a year. I also know a young man who just took a position making $260,000 a year, and he’s ecstatic, he’s more or less just out of college, five years out. So, up and down the compensation spectrum.
But what does a divisional make? I’m guessing a divisional today is making six to eight or six to nine hundred thousand. So you also have to decide how does income potential that factor into your decision.
Client: I was just looking for some kind of affirmation. Yes, wholesaling is what I know and that’s the lead candidate, though I think it makes sense to have some conversations, just to learn more and make some contacts, but wholesaling is what I to do.
I’m glad we hashed this through.
Coach Rob: Always glad to assist.
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