Part 1: Why the best salespeople don't always make the best sales managers


It happens all the time: the star sales performer is promoted to the sales manager.
It's a reward, right?  A promotion?

Well, it can be.  But without support to make that transition, sales performance across the team can suffer, and the new leader can feel lost.

Think about it.

You've taken out your best revenue generator (who knew their patch, understood what was required to get results and then, achieved just that), and placed them into a role that requires different skills and attributes: an ability to lead, coach and manage a team to do what they used to do themselves.

For "natural" sales people, leading others to achieve outcomes is difficult, simply because it came naturally, almost instinctively without too much deliberate thought.  An unconscious competence, it came easily, they did it well and it just made sense to them. Breaking down the journey isn't easy for "naturals" and "just do it!" isn't a coaching strategy  -  it's a command!

So, how do we support these high performing sales people to transition to become high performing sales leaders?

Let's first explore the fundamental shifts required of a sales person when they become a sales leader.

1. There is a need to include their TEAM into their discipline of what they must build insight across.

  • Knowing how their team is performing from a results perspective

  • Insight across team strengths and weaknesses

  • Potential areas for development

  • Motivators

  • Communication styles

  • Professional development history

  • Ability to leverage existing get the idea.

Their team underpins the delivery of real and lasting value to customers, to the organisation and in turn, how results will be achieved.

2. Activity shifts from being about growing business to the frequency and consistency of internal/external/team and individual meetings.

Establishing a schedule that can be executed consistently and effectively requires regular testing and measuring to find a recipe that works for individuals and the team.

3. As a salesperson, everything is about delivering customer value.  While this is still true for a sales leader, they now also need to elevate their ability to deliver value for their other key stakeholders: team and the organisation. And to do that, they must continue to build insight across each stakeholder group to ensure that any initiative is relevant to each stakeholder.

So how do you provide the right support to ensure you provide strong sales leadership AND accelerate team performance?  In the next part of this topic, I'll explore the following:

1. How to provide your new leader with structured program that shows them how, why and what their new role encompasses
2. What to do before you promote them
3. Why ongoing mentoring and coaching is a critical success factor

Tips from John Buchanan, Beyond 19, Coaching Practicing Lead:

  1. Being a team leader takes special personal qualities other than being a skilled salesperson

  2. It is these qualities that must be identified first over and above the technical skills of selling

  3. The main question for the prospective sales team leader to answer from peers, "you've changed..when you were one of us, you did the same as us now you're telling us to change"