Why Great Sales People Aren’t Often Great Managers

The single most common mistake that organisations make is promoting their number one sales person into the role of sales manager, thereby depriving themselves in a single stroke of their best producer and hamstringing their salesforce with an ineffective manager.

The skills required for managing, mentoring and developing a sales team are totally different from those required for selling. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find newly promoted sales managers who regret having taken a management position and may even leave to get back into sales.

Insufficient Time for Development

The majority of sales managers – new and experienced alike – say they do not have sufficient time to train and develop their sales teams. They are so focused on sales results – and so accustomed to achieving success through their personal pursuit of those results – that they overlook their greatest potential source of power, the power to increase sales performance by developing their people.

Developing Sales Managers

Successful sales directors ensure that some sort of training and development programme is in place to help sales managers continually improve the way they coach and develop their teams. Equally important, top-performing sales directors look for ways to provide sales managers with the resources they need to perform effectively.

This may mean, for example, giving managers tools with which to identify each individual sales person’s strengths and development areas, providing them with an easy-to-use framework to address development areas and, putting a process in place that helps their team to implement new skills.

Opportunity to Make a Difference

Every sales manager has a powerful role to play in developing and supporting their team members’ potential so that an increasing emphasis is placed on performance management to enable more sales people to achieve more of their potential.

The  copy below illustrates eight key areas in which a sales manager has to identify, develop and motivate their sales team. A sales manager not 100% correctly profiled for a position and most importantly, not fully trained for the position, is doomed to fail. On the other hand, a competent sales manager has control over all of the factors outlined in the accompanying table, including the final one!

8 Reasons for Failure

  1. Incorrect or no selection process results in the wrong person being appointed for the position
  2. Incorrect or no process for training results in an insufficiently developed sales manager
  3. Incorrect or no process for planning results in the expectation that sales managers do all of their own planning
  4. Incorrect or no process for supervision results in the sales manager being left without competent supervision
  5. Incorrect or no process for motivation results in the sales manager not being properly motivated to meet the objectives
  6. Incorrect or no process for stimulation results in inadequate incentives to stimulate results
  7. Incorrect or no process for evaluation results in a lack of regular evaluation against 
agreed objectives
  8. Incorrect or no process for executive action results in inadequate support by a competent manager