Our research shows that most sales managers were promoted into sales management because they were very good at sales…not because they demonstrated the skills necessary to be a good manager. The biggest challenge for the new sales manager is to swallow his or her ego and to learn new skill sets to focus on the team’s success.
94% of sales managers we interviewed across the globe made substantially less money their first year as a sales manager than they did their last year as a salesperson. Furthermore, it was harder for them to earn their bonus or commission because they now had to get their entire team to perform to achieve their quota instead of just worrying about themselves. Lastly, they no longer had control of their time because everyone was pulling on them! Isn’t it amazing that salespeople still look at sales management as something they want to do!
The fact of the matter is that it takes very specialized skills to enjoy a successful career in sales management. Some of those specialized skills include:
- The ability to manage their boss, their peers, their coworkers and their team.
- The ability to quickly assess the talent of their team and then have the courage to make the necessary changes.
- The ability to recruit, hire, motivate and retain a high performing team.
- The ability to establish and inspect a consistent sales and sales management process.
- The ability to “coach” their salespeople versus “sell” for their salespeople.
- The ability to effectively manage time, juggle multiple priorities and put their people’s needs first.
Once a salesperson accepts the role of sales manager their performance is judged by how well their team performs, not how well they, themselves, perform. One of the hardest lessons a new sales manager has to learn is not to sell for their salespeople but rather to teach them how to sell. The novice sales manager knows what he/she did to be successful but may have difficulty teaching others to do what they do naturally.
Successful sales managers must make the transition from that of individual contributor to that of a sales leader. Some are able to do so very quickly while others take more time. To accelerate the transition it is important to hone the skills highlighted in this blog post.
The bottom line is this…sales managers will only be as successful as their weakest salesperson so they must continually invest in the skill development of their team and always look to hire people better than those who depart!