Transitioning from Sales Consultant to Sales Manager

The recruitment industry is a funny old world. We can be so focused on getting our clients’ businesses boosted through exceptional talent and recruitment that we forget about our own. The result is that we tend to become somewhat accidental. Do we consciously think about our own talent development for our future success?

The reality is that for a recruitment agency to be successful in the here and now, and thrive in the future, it is imperative that they are managed and led by exceptional talent. This means that as individuals transition from the sales consultant level to the managerial one it needs to happen consciously, by design.

To really understand what needs to happen to transition an individual successfully from sales consultant level to manager, we need to first understand the distinct difference between the two roles.

Sales Consultant v. Sales Manager

The clearest way to define the differences between the two roles is that whilst the consultant hones in on the microcosm of detail, the manager is looking at the bigger picture. The two involve considerably different skills and require distinctly different attributes.

The sales consultant is responsible for hooking the candidates and working on successful match making. They need to build positive relationships with clients, have their finger in the pie of advertising, and know a thing or two about interviewing. They are in many ways a jack-of-all-trades. They are the crucial link between your business and the outside world. They need to be concerned about the details because details equal success.

The sales manager however, is the one looking over all the recruitment consultants to check they are singing in harmony. Whilst their role is still diverse, it isn’t at the micro level of a consultant. Instead they are about designing and refining recruitment solutions which propel the overall agency’s success. This means they need to manage teams, tackle business development, understand branding, understand employee motivation, understand metrics, and need to be exceptional advisors.

All in all, this makes for quite a different kettle of fish.

The reality is that individuals transitioning from consultant level to managerial level won’t learn all the skills they need on the job. They need to be actively developed.

Developing the Skills of a Sales Manager

When we take a closer look at the precise skills and attributes of a successful sales manager in the recruitment industry we see some common threads. We then need to think carefully about how we develop each of these:

  • Strategic Thinking: the consultant gets on and ‘does’, the manager needs to stop and think. A manager needs to have the ability to hover above the mundane and think about processes and procedures in respect of how they can be refined and be a platform for growth. Strategic thinking can be developed through a conscious process of building reflection in to agency life.
  • Time Management: Recruiters are adept jugglers. They need to juggle even more adeptly at managerial level. You should be able to see these skills developing within the consultant level role. If they are posing a problem now, they need working on well before the move to manager level.
  • Motivation and Reward: An important role at management level is to take control of managing motivation and reward across a team. This supervisory skill includes the ability to give feedback and have tricky conversations without breaking a sweat. There is some potential for growth in this area in the consultant role itself as a transferrable skill between dealing with tricky clients and dealing with tricky team members. Therefore, it is worth looking at collaborative skills and how they impact motivation through a structured training approach.
  • Team-Building: Closely on the back of this is the need to be able to constructively manage and build teams. This can be daunting and prone to a generic approach which won’t necessarily cut the mustard. It’s a vital leadership skill which will involve elements of role-modelling and creating drive and cohesiveness. Prior to transitioning to the level of manager it is therefore worth investing solely in leadership skills specifically for the recruitment niche. Aspirational Leaders training is perfect for this.
  • Communication: Of course, the sales manager needs outstanding communication skills. The great news is that you don’t get to be a successful sales consultant without developing communication skills to rival Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code. These skills are fabulously transferrable and at least these are largely learned ‘doing the job’ or through natural aptitude.

Whether you’re looking in the mirror at your future career progression, or staring down the development barrel of your own recruitment agency, it’s imperative you take a conscious approach to transitioning from sales consultant to manager level.

Franc Petrini - Director

Tel - 0203 4883383