Unfortunately, most salesmen and women believe that a successful career in sales culminates in sales management, and yet there are of course far less management positions up for grabs than sales positions.
As a consequence, salespeople with this attitude concentrate on making sales rather than investing in themselves in order to become Top 5 % players and eventually most become disillusioned, resulting in a significant dip in achievements levels.
The knock-on effect of this is that many salespeople who move into management, take with them an underdeveloped view of selling – a “traditional” orientation and as consequence they help to create or maintain an unrealistic and short-sighted vision of what will be needed to develop their teams.
Because they lack Top 5% experience themselves, and an insight into the skills needed to make it at the highest level, the environment that they help to create fails to recognise the need for outstanding performers, and this is particularly noticeable in the compensation structures they build, which neither supports nor encourages their teams to break through that final glass ceiling.
As I have said often enough, both here, and on numerous other occasions, the single most common mistake that organizations make is promoting their number one salesperson into the role of sales manager, thereby depriving themselves in a single stroke of their best producer and hamstringing their sales force 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 – that is if they are not pushed first!
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.
The sales manager’s role is transforming from evaluator to developer, from expert to resource, from teller to questioner. This change is no mere tweaking adjustment, it is a 180° shift from how most sales managers manage and how they are managed. Most organizations profess to want coaching, but they don’t really do anything about it. Just as students are lucky to have one or two special teachers in a lifetime, most sales professionals are lucky if they get one real coach. Organizations don’t have role models for coaching, they don’t train for it, and they don’t hold people accountable for it
You see, today, the role of sales manager is pivotal. It is the vital link, and ineffective sales leadership is the main reason why so many sales teams are failing.
All the current excitement surrounds lead generation – it seems that everything I read everywhere, is totally focused on finding, qualifying, and weighting leads. But what is the point of continually creating new opportunities and passing them to sales managers who are unable to cope?
At the end of the day, the sales leader needs to be a “model of excellence” – only then will the pack faithfully follow.
If you would like to read an abbreviated version of the Sandler Research Center report, “THE ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS FOR SUSTAINING OVERACHIEVING SALES PERFORMANCE” in which we further highlight the paucity of genuinely qualified sales managers please download your copy here