Selling principals need upskilling

Principals who come from a sales background are more likely to be poor managers, according to a network that is implementing an in-depth training program to bring them up to par.

According to CEO of hockingstuart Nigel O’Neil, one-day workshops aren’t enough to upskill inefficient managers who have come from a sales background.

“Most principals are former sales agents and they generally do that without any formal education on how to run a business successfully or how to manage and grow a team," he said.

“They’ve been working as an individual for most of their career, so we identified the gap between the sales agent skill set and the skills required to successfully lead a business.”

The ‘leadership development program’ is a three-year course that aims to not only transition sales agents to principal roles, but to also keep the standard of operations high.

“The program we developed is a six-step program, with the first step about them taking responsibility for their business. It might sound a bit strange, but principals often blame others if the business is not going the way they want it to go. They need to take ownership of it and make it work," explained Mr O'Neil.

“Next they need to understand the drivers and metrics of the different departments of their business, and we do that so they can identify the areas of focus.”

The ongoing program includes a meeting with other students once every two months, as well as a quarterly accountability call-ins to check on progress.

“We started in August last year, so we’re a little over six months in with the first wave of principals going through," Mr O'Neil said.

“As always, you’re going to get different reactions, so we’ve had about a third of the group really embrace it and make significant progress, another third are finding their way through, and the last third aren’t moving as fast as the other two groups.

“But the number of people in the top tier is growing, and we feel this is in part due to our meet ups every two months. The people in that top tier are seeing tangible results and the other principals are starting to catch on that this is something that can help them.”

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