A key distinction between top sellers and top sales leaders is that top sales leaders must be excellent team players, whereas top sellers do not.
Leaders must be team players. Why?
Because they must believe that the whole team:
- Is responsible for the total result.
- Can be lifted by the greatest player or sucked down by the worst.
- Must be modified, shaped and rebuilt as required to suit strategy requirements.
- Greater than the sum if its parts.
- Is overall, a better seller than the leader ever was.
How do the best leaders excel at being team players?
- They show up at sales meetings, training, and company events on time and participate fully. I refuse to conduct sales team training without the managers fully present as it sends a signal to the team that they, nor the training, is critical. The best leaders sit with their teams, (as opposed to with other managers) and participate fully.
- By scheduling regular coaching calls, and prioritizing them over other activities. Top sales leaders rarely reschedule coaching calls with their team members.
- By understanding that it’s not their job to be the best player on the team. That is the job of their top sellers. Instead, top leaders curate excellence from top sellers and ensure it’s leveraged to and implemented by everyone.
- Top leaders communicate generously. They share wins, give credit where credit is due, and also share pinch points quickly to ensure all team members are equipped for all selling environments. They do not horde information! For the top sales leader, no questions or communication is off limits as they know that their team can’t be successful if playing in the dark.
- They take an “I’m with you until I’m not” attitude with everyone, meaning top sales leaders fully support their sellers until it’s clear that they can’t anymore. At that point, they take decisive action to cut ties and replace them. The best sales leaders know that to foster the best team they must both create an environment of support and development while making sure that team members who are not up to the task are replaced quickly.
Why is it critical to note the difference?
Because too many companies make the huge mistake of promoting their best sellers, who are not team players, into sales leadership roles where they MUST BE team players! Compounding the problem is that most of these new leaders receive no training. Doing so gives you a terrible manager and the loss of your best seller.
By understanding this key distinction, you can make smart decisions about the right sales leader for your team, and the right training they need to be a success.
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2 responses to “Before You Promote Your Best Seller, Know This!”
Thanks for sharing this, Colleen! I have learned along the way that the best salesperson isn’t always the best sales manager. The 2 positions or jobs have different skills set – and one important skill is leadership. One may be really good at selling but the question remains if the person can lead a team towards success that efficiently, too.
Interesting article Colleen. I have seen this a lot lately-even within very large Fortune 500 companies. Unfortunately, promoting the top sales person is a huge detriment not only to the success of the team but also the person they move into “management.” It is upsetting to see this happen to some of the youngest and brightest sales people with empty promises and the trade off of their hugely successful clients turned house accounts where they real winner is usually the corporate giant and not the newly converted sales person turned manager. I’m not usually a negative person but I have seen it happen and it usually takes years to fix and often hurts the careers of so many. Great articles, thank you!