Key Considerations Before Promoting Your Top Seller To Sales Manager
On this episode, we discuss key considerations before promoting your best salesperson into management. The different skill set required to be a great sales manager, and how to set new managers up for success.
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Salespeople can become excellent managers. In fact, we conducted a research study, and most sales managers are in fact promoted from the sales ranks. On a personal level, some of the best managers I've worked with have been former sales professionals. And I’ve seen that across different industries.
But that doesn't mean that every sales professional is equipped to become a great sales manager. There are several considerations you should think about.
First, the nature of the person.
Is that person someone who wants to be a star? Do they want to have the spotlight on themselves? Do they prefer to work independently?
Those may be wonderful attributes for selling but not management. Instead, you want to find someone who was very successful as a salesperson, but they're also into working with others, collaborating, and helping others be effective. Those are the type of traits you want to look for in a sales professional that you promote into management.
Another thing to think about is the differences in responsibilities. Salespeople’s skills include prospecting, call planning, developing needs through questioning, active listening skills, aligning solutions with customer's needs, managing objections, negotiating, and closing.
These are all very important selling skills, and they're going to take those skills with them into management. But if you think about the management side, they're not going to perform those skills— although sometimes they'll go out on customer calls.
What's very important is, can they coach those skills? Are they the type of person who can learn to become a great coach? And instead of telling people how they used to do it, they start observing people, watching what they do, and have a lot of patience.
One of the attributes you must have—and not all salespeople have it— is patience. Why? Because the primary responsibility of a sales manager is to coach and build the skills of their people. That's how they gain leverage.
So, you want people who're patient, good listeners, and are willing to help others succeed. Not by telling them what to do, but by coaching them and helping them learn to succeed on those skills.
There're several other distinctions unique to sales management. As a salesperson, it was about selling skills. As a sales manager, it is also about managing performance. That means being able to do a candid assessment of people, having good analytical and interpersonal skills to discuss performance with others, and leading and motivating.
So, is this salesperson someone who's quiet and thoughtful? Or Can they stand up in front to lead and motivate a sales team? Also, you must be good at recruiting and selecting others. As a manager, the goal is to build the best team possible. So, think about hiring, coaching, managing, and leading.
To recap, consider people who have good interpersonal skills. They’re patient and good listeners. People who’re willing to be a part of a team and lead it. They’re willing to take a backseat from personal recognition to realize that management is about success through others.
If you look at those attributes, you'll find that many salespeople fit that criteria—and not just your top performers. As an anecdote, in the sporting world, there are many star performers who struggled at managing. That may be because they wanted to have the spotlight on them, or things came easily for them so they couldn't translate those into how to work with others.
But what we find is that salespeople who have the right mindset and temperament; and are willing to take the time to learn how to coach, manage, lead, and hire a team; can become excellent managers.
SRG Insights is a Q&A video series where we answer your questions on the topics of sales, sales management, sales coaching, and sales training. Featuring sales experts with over 25 years of sales and sales management experience.
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About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is a Managing Director at the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications, including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.