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  • Brett Zalaski

I Wasn’t Ready to be Promoted

I had a rep write in to the site asking what the proper amount of time before they get promoted to AE. My answer genuinely surprised the point that I felt like it's important to share.

Whether I was a manager or a Vice President, there was at least one day a week where I wished I was a sales rep again. And that’s not just an expression...that’s God’s honest truth. To not have a team or a department completely relying on solely have my focus be on interacting with our fans...having a personal goal that I controlled, not a huge goal I had to rely on other people for...that all felt way better than endless meeting, endless solicitations, endless emails, and endless requests for my time.

Here’s some more very real truth. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a very cool career with a variety of amazing opportunities. My 3 favorite?

1. Empowerment of a Salesperson (thanks for reading!)

2. Sr. Director of Ticket Sales, Columbus Crew

3. Sales Associate at CEB (my entry-level sales job)

I’ve had titles higher up the chain. I’ve had the ability to travel the country teaching sales training...and yet those three stand alone. While my heart is genuinely in teaching and coaching ticket sales...I loved being a salesperson. The further removed I’ve come from selling every day, or being directly involved with a sales team...the less I’ve liked my job. Craziness...right?

Now here’s another personal of the things I’ve been most proud of, in my career, was being promoted in only 10 months at CEB. CEB only promotes a small percentage of their Sales Associate’s to Associate Director...and the average tenure was 18 months. I did it in 10. Now here’s that truth...I WASN’T READY. Even though I was crushing my Sales Associate job, I needed more time to become more consistent as a salesperson. For the first six months into my promotion, I was incredibly inconsistent as a salesperson. I know that more time in the Sales Associate’s position would have given me more time to find out how to be consistent in my process and approach...and I would have been better for it.’re not in a race with anyone but yourself. Just because PERSON X gets promoted, and you don’t, doesn’t give them a better shot at a better career. Two of the best salespeople I’ve ever worked with directly had remarkably different trajectories. One got promoted in the absolutely minimum 6 month time limit in Inside Sales...and the other got promoted at 20 of the longest tenures I’ve had work for me. They were equally great salespeople. But that rep needed every day of that 20 months.

Now here’s my last truth...I didn’t love being a senior executive. I couldn’t care less how people take that statement. I did not like being that removed from the sales floor that consistently. When I was in organizational meetings, all I wanted to do was get back to helping sell tickets. I really disliked being removed from the consistent teaching and coaching that came with being a Sr. Director. Plenty of people want that senior executive title...but what I learned is that I didn’t.

Because here’s the most important thing. If you race too hard to get to the top...and do not enjoy the may found out that you raced past something you really loved to get to something you don’t even like. Take your time. Enjoy the process. And go where your heart leads...not where you believe your environment tells you on a timeline you aren’t comfortable with.

The quote on the right is my motto for 2019. The only race I'm in is the one to fill my heart. If you think that is corny, you probably think you need to win the race to the top. The one's who know that that is right will always win a lot more.

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