Thinking of promoting your best sales performer to sales manager? Think again!
Many businesses have made the mistake of promoting their best performing sales person into the role of sales manager. Their logic – well they are great at selling, they’ll be great at sales management. Sadly most of these situations end in disaster.
To start off, the top performing sales person has usually been given no training or a development framework to help them make the transition into what is a very different role.
The new sales manager, if not aware of their own capabilities/areas for development and not properly trained often (usually unintentionally) begins to compete with their sales team for sales because they miss the thrill of the sale.
When out with a sales person they often take over the sales call and do it themselves, leaving the sales person feeling diminished or marginalised.
Their coaching strategies are reduced to saying “You can do it, just be like me”. Their management of the sales team can be haphazard and lacking in structure.
The consequences of such an approach can be far reaching. With their actions resulting in lower sales performance, their frustration levels rise and they find themselves taking back the sales responsibilities trying to cover for low levels of sales performance.
Then sales people begin to leave the company or others kick back taking the easy road while the sales manager does their job for them. And if not corrected quickly they send themselves and their sales team into a downward spiral of poor sales outcomes.
Why would any business do this? The intentions of management to promote the best sales performer to management are usually honourable – moving into management is seen as a promotion.
The best performing sales person may have asked for the promotion as it is seen (and often promoted by business) as the next prestigious step in their career. This person has been a great asset to our business we should promote them – right? Not necessarily.
Many top performing sales people usually get their greatest thrill in being in a sales role. While the lure of management looks attractive, usually with a bigger more stable pay packet and prestige, the truth is that it is often a nightmare for many – even more so when there is no training, tools or resources to do the job well.
Many an elite sales performer, like many elite athletes, do not know why they are good or how to show others to be effective in sales. They are often very unaware of their own strengths and talents and that means they do not know how to transfer their skills and talents on to others. And they often do not know how others need to learn.
Many are operating intuitively. How can you train and teach something that doesn’t exist? With no proper training in people management, coaching and development practices, and if the new sales manager has low levels of self awareness then we are heading for disaster in the sales stakes.
I keep seeing the following issues reoccurring too frequently in many sales teams:
No defined sales model.
No logical sales plan.
No clear sales metrics and activities plan.
No logical sales process for sales people to follow or sales managers to coach to.
No logical sales coaching and performance system to use to help improve performance.
No structured targeted sales recruitment process to use.
No clear value proposition, lack of awareness of their competitive edge and no clear economic argument to position products/ services/business against the competition.
Poor role clarity – none really knows what they need to being doing, including the sales manager.
In my opinion this comes down to not have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, not selecting correctly for the role, ineffective sales management training and poor access to tools and resources for sales managers to do their job well.
Developing and enhancing your skills, attitudes and behaviours to be an effective sales manager and leader is critical to your and your sales team’s success.
However many sales managers do not get the right level of training and development to be effective and gain mastery in their jobs. Many have attended high level leadership programs on vision and high-end strategy, but found they were still missing the practical in-field tools and practices they needed to use and apply everyday with their people.
Many of the sales managers I come across are desperate for useful tools and resources and practical training to help them do their jobs well.
I find when we work with them, give them what they need by way of coaching field guides, templates, coaching/recruitment/performance processes, sales meetings guidelines etc, coupled with a good education in this space, they take to it with gusto and find they can really make a difference with their teams and their sales results.
Several sales managers I have been working with recently found their anxiety levels reduced significantly once they had their “sales managers tool kit” and knew how to use it wisely and well.
Sales management is an applied role and not some theoretical abstraction.
So let’s give sales managers a fair chance of gaining mastery in their roles by giving them what they need – practical tools, resources and education. And who knows, even the top performing sales people might make top performing sales managers if given half a chance.
Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to www.barrett.com.au
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