Recently, I made the point that the role of sales management â€“ dare I say â€œsales leadershipâ€ â€“ is now pivotal in the success of every organization and yet it is becoming clear that around 80% of managers are unqualified to fulfil the role that is being asked of them.
What does that mean?
As I have said often enough here on this Blog, and also in recent live discussions, 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 â€“ sounds obvious, but it is a point which must be re-iterated. As a result, itâ€™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.
When a salesperson gains promotion to management the first thing they have to do is to quickly acquaint themselves with a new set of working relationships â€“ and a new set of rules.
The salespersonâ€™s primary working relationships are with customers. However the sales managerâ€™s is with the sales force i.e. his subordinates.
Letâ€™s look at that a little more closely:
Essential Attributes â€“ Successful Salesperson:
â€¢ Personal drive (ego)
â€¢ Needs to win battles (Individual sales)
â€¢ Able to work alone
â€¢ Persuades customers to see his/her point
â€¢ Needs selling skills, personal skills and knowledge
â€¢ Able to work away from the office
â€¢ Works well with people and numbers
â€¢ Good at implementing sales tactics
Essential Attributes â€“ Successful Sales Manager:
â€¢ Submission of personal needs to the goals of the Company (Corporate drive)
â€¢ Needs to win the war (Meet corporate goals)
â€¢ Able to work with others
â€¢ Persuades the sales team to see the Companyâ€™s point
â€¢ Needs management skills and marketing knowledge
â€¢ Needs to work at the office
â€¢ Works well with people, numbers, paperwork and the corporate hierarchy
â€¢ Good at developing sales and marketing strategies
Completely different set of skills!
The most common danger in having sales managers who are basically super salespeople is that â€œrelations with subordinatesâ€ including the critical tasks of development and supervision may deteriorate.
Even when they do recognize the importance of developing their salespeople, many sales managers find that they lack the skills and resources to do it effectively. It then becomes easier not to bother.
The majority of sales managers â€“ new and experienced alike â€“ say they do not have sufficient time to train and develop their sales teams. They are so focused on sales results â€“ and so accustomed to achieving success through their personal pursuit of those results â€“ that they overlook their greatest potential source of power, the power to increase sales performance by developing their people.
To make things worse, most sales teams consist of a number of individuals with differing levels of experience and ability, so the whole issue of team development becomes too daunting for the overwhelmed manager to contemplate.
Sadly, this is a common scenario, and goes some way to explaining why levels of sales achievement are declining so alarmingly.
At least 80% of sales managers fail within eighteen months of being promoted (Source: Chally).
I spend quite a lot of my time questioning the motives of would-be sales managers: is it the kudos that is attractive? The lure of a new car? The power that comes with authority? increased responsibility?
The reality is that it can be one of the loneliest and most stressful jobs in the world. Being suddenly propelled from a situation where you are,Â by and large, totally responsible for your own achievement, into another where you are totally dependent on your team for your success. Is it any wonder that so many managers fail so early, in what could have been such a promising career?
Sales achievement levels have never been so far off target and the quality of selling skills are Â spiraling downwards at an alarming rate of acceleration â€“ whose fault is it?
I think it is about time our sales managers stood up and accepted responsibility.
Whatever happens on the sales floor is down to the sales leader â€“ leaders always have to accept full accountability.
News: Excellent new interview with the ebullient Colleen Francis is released today over at Top Sales World, which I think you will enjoy. Colleen and I discuss the need to gain commitment at every stage of the buying cycle. In effect we are insisting that every phone call/email/meeting must be moving the sale forward.
Lots of compliments about this monthâ€™s Top Sales magazineÂ
And lots of excitement surrounding the announcement of this yearâ€™s Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers