Sales leadership, management, leader, boss, sports business

How to transition from a salesperson to a sales leader

by Kristoffer Dolen - Sales Manager, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
January 12, 2021

Too often when speaking with top sales representatives in the sports industry, I ask what their future career aspirations are, and I almost always hear, “I want to be a manager.” Sound familiar?

On paper, management sounds great and is a ‘safe’ answer when looking ahead towards the next steps in your career. The questions then become ‘why?’ and ‘what are you doing each and every day to reach those career goals and become a leader on your current team?’. You don’t have to wait for a management title to be a leader. In fact, the opposite is true. The best leaders in the business embraced the opportunity to grow as a sales leader every single day on their current team without having that coveted management title. What are you doing today to help you transition when that next management opportunity is available?

The best leaders in our industry can also help others around them grow and be the best version of themselves.

If you’re reading this, you’re already doing one of the easiest steps of all – READ! Gain knowledge from different perspectives and different leadership styles. As you begin to transition from a salesperson to a sales leader, one of the best traits you can have is genuine curiosity. Ask questions – if you’re truly invested in something, you ask questions. Read books. Read articles. Subscribe to content that is going to add to your skillset.

How self-aware are you? If you want to lead, think about how many people on your current team would already point to you as a leader. In sales, we all have a number tied to us. As a top producer, others on the team will naturally look to you. As you transition from a salesperson to a sales leader, embrace this opportunity! The best leaders in our industry can also help others around them grow and be the best version of themselves. Manage sideways. This doesn’t always mean telling fellow sales reps what they WANT to hear, but often times telling them what they NEED to hear. If a rep is crushing a call or makes a huge sale, help celebrate it! Conversely, if a rep is asking weak questions, ‘going through the motions’, or being negative, be the one there to bring light to any areas of improvement and help correct them. We all have managers who will notice and correct these behaviors, but it goes a long way to hear feedback from your peers as well.

Remember, the boss has the TITLE; a leader has the PEOPLE.

As you continue your transition to becoming a sales leader on your current team, remember LEADERS STEP UP. This is something that has been engrained into my DNA during my past 8 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Echoing the previous point, if you see behaviors on your team that need to be corrected, STEP UP and say something. If there’s a networking opportunity in your area, STEP UP and attend. If there’s a sales table shift that needs to be filled, STEP UP and make that money. If there’s a community event early on a Saturday morning, STEP UP and lend a hand. Selfless acts and repeatedly stepping up prove to go a long way. Actions speak much louder than words. If you want to lead – STEP UP.

Each day, the opportunity to lead is there. Remember, the boss has the TITLE; a leader has the PEOPLE. What are you doing each day to grow as a sales leader? The choice is yours.

I’ve posed a good number of questions to ask yourself throughout this blog – answer them and self-reflect. If you continue to be true to yourself and grow each day by challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone, good things will continue to come your way.

Kris Dolen is the Sales Manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is a proud alumnus of the University of Central Florida where he studied Sport Business Management. Prior to his current role, Kris sold as an Account Executive for the Buccaneers for four years. He has over a decade of industry experience in ticket sales and fundraising which spans his time with the Orange Bowl Committee, Florida State University & Seminole Boosters, and Learfield IMG College Ticket Solutions at the University of South Florida. He's also a mentor in theClubhouse and you can schedule a 1:1 call with Kris here.