The New Manager: Meet the New Guy

We'd like to introduce you to Mark Levering, a salesperson who recently stepped into the management ranks. You'll get to know Mark better as the year progresses because you'll be getting a regular peek at his personal diary entries on coping with the challenges of being a new manager. Without further ado, heeeeeere's Mark!

February 1, 1996

The New Manager on the Block

Name and title: Mark Levering, office manager

Company: Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate, Dover, Del.

Company specialty and size: Primarily residential office, with 13 salespeople

Entered management: June 1995

Previous experience: Five-plus years in residential sales; before that, ran a construction company with 31 employees. "When you're in construction, it's very difficult to get 31 employees to show up, and I found I was becoming run down and not enjoying my job anymore. So I decided to make a career change."

Personal strengths: "Probably one of the most important things is being a good listener," Levering says. "Sometimes I feel as if I'm behind a deli counter, where people are lined up waiting to get served. So I just try to be a good listener and lend direction but not come up with answers. I try to help salespeople answer questions for themselves."

Weakness: The lack of market knowledge as a result of going to a new area. "I came from Newark," Levering explains, "which is a more urban area about 40 miles north of Dover, which I'd call fairly rural."

Dear Diary:

Why did I get into management? I wanted to be a leader and coach and help people further develop their careers.

I've got my work cut out for me. The office is computerized, but we're experiencing computer glitches. I'm currently working on upper management to hook us up to a server and run hookups to the salespeople's desks. We have an in-house list system, CMA software, and buyer tour and presentation software.

When I came here, very few salespeople were using the computers we have, I think because they lacked knowledge or computer training. I've been trying to curb their fears over their lack of knowledge by demonstrating the ease of the programs.

(There seems to be a lack of enthusiasm in the Dover market when it comes to computerization. I don't know first-hand how many companies are computerized. I'm told it's very few. And the more I talk to salespeople, the more I think it's a lack of computer literacy than the fact that companies don't have computers.)

I'm also encouraging salespeople to get additional training, prompting them to go to seminars, and letting them know what an important role technology plays in our career today. I also bring up, almost weekly, sales technology information tidbits.

So far, so good. Salespeople are more excited about strengthening their technology education, and some are now attending courses in real estate automation.

My first goal is to encourage upper management to acquire another company or to lease new space so that I can start a serious recruiting campaign. We currently have 12 desks and 13 salespeople, with no room to grow.

If I can achieve one of those goals, I plan to expand our market share. From January through September 1995, there were 625 transactions in our market, which translates into 1,250 units. We participated in 167.5 units, so we have 13 percent of the market share. My goal is to achieve 25 percent market share by June if the other goal of expansion falls into place.

I don't actually have a recruiting plan yet, but I'm working on it. Basically, the only thing I've been doing up to this point is calling salespeople when I get wind that they're unhappy where they are. But I'd like to have an office of 30 full-time sales professionals by June.

I won't be able to achieve either of those goals if I can't convince upper management we need additional space. Right now we're starting to push at the seams in our current location. I'd like to move into new space by March; otherwise, our office space will keep me from achieving the rest of my goals.

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