Why most sales managers don’t…

Taking on your first management role is challenging for anyone but for a newly appointed sales manager it’s tougher than most.  Why should that be?

Let’s look at where most first-time sales managers come from – the salesforce.  In the vast majority of cases sales managers are promoted out of the salesforce, and more often than not it’s the top performing salesperson who gets the job.

Spectacular mistake!

It makes perfect sense, your top salesperson is surely ideally placed to pass on their skills, insights and experience to the rest of the team and drive them to new heights of performance? Sadly not.

For a start most naturally talented people aren’t particularly good at identifying or articulating what it is they do so well.  It was one of the first things Huthwaite Research Group, now Huthwaite International, discovered when they began their research into sales effectiveness.  The good people either couldn’t tell you what they did or ascribed their success to a behaviour that, on closer inspection, bore no relation to successful performance at all.

So, your star salesperson can’t pass on their expertise, and what they do pass on is probably wrong!

Then there’s why your top sales person got to that position in the first place.  They are naturally talented, well trained or both.  They are motivated and dedicated to delivering the value their customers are seeking.  The chances are they love selling.  Does any of that qualify them to be an effective manager?  Not in the slightest.

You’ve taken one of your most valuable assets away from what they know and love and dropped them into a role they are incredibly ill-equipped to do.  They can’t turn the job down, it’s promotion, more money, higher status and a better car.  Saying ‘no thanks’ would be career suicide.

So, you sweeten the pill, you let them keep a few accounts, probably their favourite accounts, possibly your biggest accounts.  And because you want to keep them motivated you let them stay in the commission scheme.  And what does you sales manager then do?  They carry on selling.

“Have you done any coaching visits with the team?”  “No, had to see a customer”.

“Have you reviewed the pipeline?” “Sorry, had to see a customer”.

“Have you briefed marketing on the new sales drive?”  “Not had time, the customers needed to see me”.

So your sales manager takes the extra money and the better car but as they’re keeping your best customers happy you can’t complain.

It’s just a pity there’s just one thing they never get around to doing – being a manager.