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A Necessary Skill

All Managers Must Have Selling Skills

Why Some Managers Deny the Need for Sales Skills
Some of the most successful managers began their entry-level careers in sales and marketing. They appeared to understand the critical need for sales skills in all areas of management long before they had the opportunity to manage.

Others, particularly those in the accounting or IT (information technology) specialties, often deny this need and pursue their goals in a vacuum. While a few of the best technical experts may fare well, most will accomplish little, but damage their chances to be effective or receive promotions.

Still others confuse selling skills with company politics and refuse to participate in the process. Denying the need for selling skills by calling this politics often damages their important employee relationships and increases the difficulty of being noticed positively by upper management.

Some managers issue a denial to mask their lack of confidence in their personal sales skills. However, these individuals usually confuse superior sales skills with personal motivation and relationship skills, which are the needed components.

Management Sales Skills—Cause and Effect
This is a partial list of the most important managerial sales skills that will enhance your career in both the short- and long-term.

Managers must:

Sell themselves to all staff, including employees, peers, and upper management.  These skills involve more than just likability. Employees must pair your pleasant, caring personality with your superior technical competence. This combination generates peer respect and credibility. Along with staff, senior management should get these warm, fuzzy feelings. Your sales skills can be fairly consistent with both groups, eliminating the need for multiple personas.

Sell their leadership ability.  This selling skill is critical to professional advancement. Some corporate departments, like sales and marketing, often allow managers to "lead by example," as results are constantly monitored and recorded. Others, like operations, customer service, and accounting, demand more selling effort as tracking success and leadership is more difficult. Selling your leadership ability to senior management should be both sincere and public. Volunteering for extra projects, taking charge of your team, and completing assignments on time and as agreed all show your leadership.

Sell new or changed policies and procedures to staff.  This critical skill is often mistakenly undervalued by senior management, at least, until some managers use it properly while some do not. New or significantly changed policies and procedures are usually viewed with suspicion, distrust, and dismay by staff. These negative feelings are "enhanced" if employees had no input in their creation and/or were not advised of coming changes. Good managers know how to best sell these procedures to bring staff on board the moving train of change. Workplace life for staff and management becomes a much better experience if managers sell these issues properly.

Sell their important ideas to both employees and senior management.  Good ideas are equal to consistent high performance to a manager's future career success. Learning to sell these ideas effectively is a critical skill as ideas never heard are ideas never implemented. The importance of selling senior management is self-explanatory. However, selling your employees on an idea serves two equally important purposes.

Like "leaking" a partial story to the media to gauge how the full explanation might be received, selling staff an idea displays the "temperature" of a potential operations or product improvement. Second, this feedback may suggest improvements or "tweaks" to your ideas, allowing you to improve them before selling them to upper management.

Sell themselves to staff and management during promotion opportunities.  This may appear obvious, but this skill is actually often overlooked. Just think about the strategies of most political candidates. Starting off slowly publicizing their candidacy and platforms, most candidates employ a crushing "push" just prior to election day.

While buying a staggering volume of media time is inappropriate prior to promotion opportunities, consciously selling yourself to decision makers in advance of final action can often make the difference that puts you over the top. As you track your way upward on the organization chart, senior management's need for stronger leadership also increases. By subtly selling your virtues and value, decision makers often feel more comfortable selecting you for the most desired positions.

Sell themselves when seeking new employment.  This may be the most critical, and certainly most challenging, situation when you need your selling skills to be first rate. While the most respected employment firms, like the professionals at Kelly Services, can offer valuable help in resume and interview preparation, they cannot interview for you. New companies do not know you and how you interface with or lead your team. You must sell yourself as the best candidate for the available opportunity. Your managerial selling skills will never be more tested nor more rewarding.