Why The Best Sales Reps Don’t Always Make The Best Sales Managers

Just because someone is a star sales rep doesn't mean those skills translate well into leading others. Here, Jerry Land discusses the key factors to consider when thinking about promoting from within for a sales management role.

What do Wayne Gretzky, Ted Williams and Magic Johnson have in common? They were incredible athletes who did not possess the skills necessary to teach others how to perform the way they had during their playing careers or even to mediocre levels relative to the levels of competition in their respective leagues.

The same can be said for your star sales reps: some of them simply do not have the skill set to lead others to the great careers that they had cultivated for themselves, and some will even cause their sales reps’ abilities to regress or leave your company.

Communicating and Coaching

Oftentimes, sales reps cannot put a finger on what makes them amongst your best, simply saying it is them using their instincts. However, being able to communicate these traits to others is essential for those in a leadership role. The ability to see areas of potential in their sales reps and being able to help them reach that potential by coaching them is also something that they must be able to do, and not everybody will have that skill set.

The Value of Patience

Many talented sales reps are not known for being the most patient individuals, and working with sales reps who cannot do things that they had been able to do almost effortlessly can be frustrating. Sometimes, new sales managers may want to take over the sales call and do it themselves, and those who take action and close deals instead of the reps oftentimes undermine their sales reps’ confidence and motivation. Additionally, sales managers have to be patient when teaching others as it can oftentimes take weeks or months for those efforts to result in something tangible.

Turning the Focus to Others

Before, a top sales rep would be focused on improving their own individual numbers. After they have taken advantage of your company’s succession plan, that part of his skill set is just not as important anymore. What is essential is being able to teach others to sell at or near the levels they had, which is a completely different skill. Unfortunately, some are not able to successfully make this transition from a me-centered mentality to a team-focused one.

Do They See the Big Picture?

Oftentimes, those involved directly with sales are much more narrowly focused than individuals in management. Of course, this is to be expected to a degree, but anybody you are considering for your succession plan needs to have at least shown a potential for understanding how the company works as a whole and how her prospective sales team and the nuances of the company would affect each other, both in a pure numbers sense of sales figures as well as aspects of your organization that are not so easily calculated.

You’re Losing an Incredible Salesperson

Remember that whether or not a sales rep possesses promotability, moving them into a sales manager position will cause you to lose an incredible salesperson. Of course, the plan is to have them influence those they will be overseeing to become a much more significant impact on your company, but that does not always end up being the case.

The Salesperson is Not Ready for a Salary Reduction

Oftentimes, a sales manager will earn less or a similar income than a sales rep, and the individual being considered for this new role needs to be aware of this and welcome it. If they don’t, this new position may not be right for them.

They May Not Be That Interested

Although it’s completely fine to consider pursuing a sales rep who has not voiced any interest in management, in this case, do take into consideration that they may in fact not be that interested in this role and may simply accept it due to a sense of obligation, whether that’s to the company, themselves or their family.

However, after taking all of this into consideration, do not hesitate to engage in promoting from within if the right person is being considered for the leadership role. Plenty of outstanding sales reps do have the skill set to also succeed after getting into sales management; the secret is to analyze the skills necessary in their new role and not simply the ones that made them one of your best salespeople.

Do they already help others become better sellers? Have they voiced interest in upward mobility within your company? Simply put, if you believe that promoting from within is appropriate in this case, then absolutely consider moving this person into the new role. Just make sure to first take into account that being a good sales rep does not necessarily mean that this individual will also be a great sales manager before making your final decision.

Jerry Land is the Packaging Sales Recruiter who helps CEOs, VPs of Sales and Sales Managers find and recruit the sales talent they need to grow and prosper.  The biggest problems he hears from them are it takes too long to find candidates and those they do find aren’t strong enough to hire.  He’s the Packaging Sales Recruiter who quickly provides access to the packaging sales candidates they need to ensure they get hiring right the first time. 

This article was orinally posted at JPland.net

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