Sales Management – Should You Promote a Top Sales Performer to Sales Management?

A question I hear frequently is, “Should I promote my top sales performer to a sales management role?”To answer this question, I suggest you consider the following three questions:
Does the individual have the TALENTS required to succeed as a sales manager?
WHY are they interested in being promoted?
What sales management TRAINING will they receive?
Let’s examine each of these questions in some detail.1. Does the individual have the TALENTS required to succeed as a sales manager?During the past nine years I have examined sales assessment test results for thousands of salespeople and sales managers. My conclusion? Top sales performers and top-performing sales managers share many of the same talents. However, there are a handful of characteristics where top-performing sales managers differ from top-performing salespeople. For example:
Top-performing sales managers have slightly higher scores for Verbal Skill, Verbal Reasoning and Numeric Reasoning.
Top-performing sales managers are slightly more Assertive, but they are also slightly more Manageable, have a slightly more positive Attitude and are slightly less Independent.
But, probably most significant difference is that Financial/Administrative (which indicates the individual’s interest process, procedure, administration and financial tasks) is one of the top three interests for top-performing sales managers, whereas 80% of top sales performers have very little interest in these activities. I feel this is a key differentiator because the sales management methodology I teach requires a manager to be willing to:
Hold salespeople accountable for following a predictable, repeatable sales process
Frequently and consistently inspect the quantity and quality of their salespeople’s activities (especially for new salespeople and those who are not performing up to standard)
Analyze sales opportunity pipeline reports, profit and loss statements and other data and reports
If managers are willing to do these things, they can create a predictable and repeatable sales culture that can be scaled rapidly. If they are NOT willing to do these things, they are likely to suffer 80/20 sales team performance, where a small fraction of the salespeople produce most of the sales results and successes are hard to replicate.2. WHY are they interested in being promoted?My opinion is that the desire to be promoted is often implanted in us by our parents, other adults and educational institutions. This makes perfect sense, as in many (if not most) career paths the only way to make more money and enjoy more perks is to earn promotions. However, in sales this is usually NOT the case!If you are a top-performing salesperson, often you will take a pay CUT if you accept a promotion to management. That is certainly what happened to me when I was promoted to sales management in 1991. I walked away from a $6 million pipeline that would have paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for the next several years. While I still earned a six-figure income as a manager, my income was a fraction of what it would have been had I remained a salesperson.When a salesperson is considering a promotion to management, I advise that they make a very sincere effort to identify the reasons why the idea of being promoted is attractive to them. I also suggest that they give some thought to the following realities:
Money: Unless you eventually make it all the way to executive management, chance are you will earn LESS as a manager than you would earn by remaining a top-performing salesperson
Attention: As a manager you no longer get to be the star. Instead, you need to shift your focus to helping the members of your sales team succeed.
Administration: As we saw in the first section of this article, a key component of being a successful sales manager is frequently and consistently inspecting the quantity and quality of your salespeople’s activities. How do you feel about doing this kind of work…over and over again?
Training/Coaching: How much interest do you have in training, coaching and mentoring others? How do you feel about participating in repetitive role plays, which is a critical component of changing your salespeople’s behaviors?
Sometimes I hear salespeople say they would like to move to management because they are tired of the day-to-day grind of prospecting and managing sales cycles, or they are tired of the ups and downs in income, or they really enjoy coaching and mentoring others, or they would like to eventually have an opportunity to contribute in other areas of the company. These are all perfectly valid reasons, and there are many more.All I ask is that you take the time to verify that you (or your salesperson) are pursuing a promotion to management for the RIGHT reasons and that you (or your salesperson) are ready to deal with the realities of being a sales manager.3. What sales management TRAINING will they receive?Just because someone is an effective salesperson does NOT mean they will automatically be an effective manager. There are specific skills and concepts that a new sales manager needs to learn if they are going to be successful. These include:
Sales Recruiting
Sales Compensation
Sales Training and Coaching
Sales Activity Inspection
What is your plan for teaching your new sales manager how to perform these critical activities?ConclusionSometimes it DOES make sense to promote a top sales performer to a sales management role. However, before you promote, please be sure to give careful thought to the following questions:
Does the individual have the TALENTS required to succeed?
WHY are they interested in being promoted?
What TRAINING will they receive?
If you are not confident in your answers to these three questions, you may be on the verge of making a very expensive mistake. Not only will you lose the promoted salesperson’s individual production; if they fail as a manager they are likely to leave your company and go sell for someone else!On the other hand, if a salesperson has the talents required to succeed, if he or she is pursuing promotion for the right reasons, and if he or she will receive training in critical sales management skills and concepts, the stars are aligned for a successful…and profitable…promotion!©2011 Alan Rigg

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Are You A Sales Manager Or A Sales Damager?

When salespeople are not selling; – look to the sales manager.
When they are not motivated to see customers; – look to the sales manager.
When there is no enthusiasm in the team; – look to the sales manager.Sales Managers don’t look to themselves in these cases, they blame the Salespeople and the Salespeople blame the Sales manager.The other evening, after a talk, a sales manager came up to me and told me that they were having a real problem with their sales team. “They are just not performing,” “they are not motivated,” “I talk but they don’t listen,” “there is no drive, no commitment, nothing happening.”Now, all of what’s missing in this team is actually missing in the sales manager!It all starts with the sales manager.This particular person who told me this has been with their company for over 30 years and has been the sales manager for just over 20 years. They have been doing the same old thing over and over and are now wondering why it’s not working. The answer is simple. The enthusiasm has died. Not the sales people’s enthusiasm but that of the sales manager! It’s not the salespeople who are bored and have no drive, it’s the sales manager.Only when sales managers understand that the success of their team is their responsibility, will they start to make some headway to improving the situation.The sales manager first has to manage and motivate themselves before they can manage and motivate the team.When the team is motivated it’s not a new light that’s been turned on. It’s a light that was always there and will continue to be there. But it needs the switch to be flipped before it comes on.”That makes sense but how do I do that?”By sticking to the simple basics of Leadership and Motivation and using “The 6 key elements” to keeping the Sales team motivated.1. Provide inspiration.
2. Build positive attitudes.
3. Show recognition.
4. Goal setting.
5. Motivation.
6. Build team spirit and create fun.Yes, enthusiasm and excitement are what the salespeople need more than any skills training. They need to be reminded of the basics but most importantly, they need their enthusiasm ignited.Enthusiasm is everything in sales!When salespeople are enthusiastic and excited about themselves and their profession, they will start feeling motivated and look forward to getting out there and seeing their customers.Skills or no skills, this is what makes salespeople successful. When salespeople are enthusiastic, nothing will stop them. The customer can’t help getting enthusiastic as well, it rubs off on everyone.Only when sales managers accept full responsibility for their team’s performance, will they realize that the buck stops with them.They need to be the role model, the manager, the leader and the coach; all in one. They make it happen!They set the tone. That’s their job. They get results through their people. Their success depends on the success of their people. They need to manage less and LEAD more!A good sales manager spends less time in the office analyzing everything and playing with numbers and spends more time out in the field with his salespeople and their customers.”Our sales are down. If we increase the call rate by 10% and close 1 in 4 instead of the current 1 in 7 we will achieve target” This may be the answer (On paper) but how do you achieve it? What has to happen to increase the call rate and closing ratios?”The salespeople must want to achieve this. The sales manager has to sell the idea to the salespeople. They have to get buy in from the team and this is where good leadership comes in. Only a good leader can get the team to work together to achieve a common goal, budgets, the sales targets etc.It is at this point where the sales manager usually fails. They stay in the office and spend their time analyzing numbers and coming up with all sorts of solutions – only on paper.A good sales manger will get out of the office and lead by example. They will spend a full day working with a salesperson, finding out firsthand what the problems are and how to fix them. They need to speak face to face with their customers to gain information that will help them to come up with ideas for increasing sales.By doing this they will get respect from the sales team and will get support for their ideas to increase call rates and closing ratios because they are talking from the point of being there and experiencing the situation first hand.YOU CANNOT MANAGE OR LEAD A SALES TEAM FROM BEHIND A DESK.By spending time out in the field with salespeople, sales mangers will experience what the salespeople are experiencing and can then coach them on how to improve and what to do to start getting more sales.Salespeople will perform for a sales manager whom they respect. And that respect will only come from a trust and belief that the sales manager can do what they are asking the team to do.The Sales Manager MUST LEAD BY EXAMPLE!It’s all about enthusiasm and excitement. Sales people continually need motivation in order to sell well. They require Inspiration from their Manager to promote enthusiasm and drive.They need a Manager who leads by example and provides an exciting environment in which to perform. Salespeople should feel enthusiastic about making a sales call.Remind yourself that you are in the best profession in the world!Feel good about yourself and your profession and then get the sales team to feel the same way.So it’s no use complaining about the Salespeople not performing, not being enthusiastic and not listening.If this is the case, then you are not performing as an effective Sales Manager.Salespeople need a Manager who CARES!!!