A huge mistake growing businesses make is assigning an individual as a “player-coach.”
That is, assigning a role that is both coaching and managing a team while also having their own territory or clients that they manage on their own.
Never do this. Period. It’s a bad idea. And, did I mention it’s a huge mistake?
Why is this such a big mistake?
In order to make someone an effective manager, you need to get them out of the role of individual contribution. A great seller does just that, they sell. Those skills don’t necessarily, nor should they, translate into a sales leadership role.
Beyond just this, think about the animosity that can potentially stem from such a role in your organization. It’s very easy for the sales team to believe that the sales manager is competing with them and doesn’t actually have their best interests at heart. They’ll assume the manager is taking the best deals, and they’ll assume the manager is spending the bulk of their time selling rather than managing.
Even if this isn’t the case, there’s a clear conflict of interest which will demoralize your sales team and stun sales growth.
Does your organization assign player-coach roles? If so, why?
5 responses to “Beware of The Player-Coach”
We do, and I vehemently disagree with your point. In the past, we did have pure sales managers, but what happened was they became too ivory tower and lost touch with the customer base and their needs. By maintaining a territory, there is a bigger need to stay on top of market trends. And for us, there is no competition since territories are geographical…each person competes with themselves and our competition…not with each other.
I agree completely. If you have the right Sales Manager/Coach he will make your team stronger and more successful. The “Perfect Sales Manager” creates a fun and competitive environment. He’s the “thinker” and the “Creative” on prospecting and development of programs to support your industry. He stays in touch by making calls with his team so understands real issues in the field. His pay incentive is off of his team’s performance. Not his Individual commission sales.
Having run sales teams and consulted to companies on effective sales i am inclined to agree with Scott. Sales manager’s need to be exposed to the same problems as their sales folk face so should have a small portfolio that allows them time to coach which i agree is their primary role. Buyers are learning new techniques all the time so keeping abreast of what’s out there is essential for sales managers
The challenge with the player coach is that they “play” and don’t “coach”. The most effective managers are those who spend all their time dedicated to improving the performance of their team, rather than those who make money by selling on their own. because selling and leading are different skill sets. In fact, the highest performing teams I’m working with right now are led by leaders who didn’t come out of the sales channel at all. Let’s use football as an example. Bill Belichick doesn’t take the field as a player, nor was he the likely ever the best football player in the league. But he is one heck of a coach and has created a dynasty.
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