I began my sales career in D.C. in my mid 20's with absolutely no prior sales experience and not a clue as to what I was supposed to do every day. My manager was located in Atlanta and preferred spending his time with reps that were more seasoned and thus busier entertaining customers. As I would later ascertain, he enjoyed the nice restaurants and bottles of wine with the customers more than he did working with an inexperienced sales rep like myself.
After two years of mistakes, miscues and chance, I somehow managed to begin and make some inroads into accounts and realized I just may have an aptitude for sales after all.
One thing I need to mention is I had interviewed with the #1 market leader in my industry and they would not hire me without prior sales experience. But what I was not fully aware of was they were carefully tracking my progress as a competitor and rep. As I began to get more and more business from them, I was approached and asked to interview for a new position that was being created as the result of a territory split.
I did take the job, moved 1300 miles from D.C. and began my next chapter as a sales rep. I did exceptionally well winning President's Club by the end of my second year in the territory and after my third year, starting making inquires about being promoted to District Manager.
I put my name in the hat for two positions and wasn't interviewed for either one of them. I was disappointed and began to get impatient with the Regional Vice President about my not being considered for the management positions. I was subsequently lured away by a competitor due to my frustration with the company not promoting me.
The President of the company I left called to ask why I had gone to a competitor and I conveyed my frustration with not being considered for management after being an exemplary sales rep.
- There needed to be a more open dialogue between me and the Regional Vice President about what it was that I needed to do to get a promotion.
- The VP should have understood the importance a promotion represented to me and not assumed that I would stay if he would not consider me as a viable candidate.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Obviously, I was well thought of in the company if the President called and asked why I left, however, through a lack of communication on the VP's part, I never felt that I was held in such esteem.
- Value your people, assist them with their career goals, communicate effectively with them or you stand to loose them to a competitor.
- The loss in sales by my leaving and taking my customers with me eventually cost that company more than 20 million dollars in sales over the next ten years.
- A better effort to communicate and devise a plan of advancement would have left that money in the coffers of the company that appeared to ignore my desires.
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