We’ve seen a lot of very high performing sales managers that come through our program. And one thing I noticed was that most of them were never the best salesperson in their organization. In fact, the majority of them had very little sales experience. They had enough to be credible in the marketplace and they had enough sales experience to know what it is like to face rejection and to get a big win.
What Distinguishes These Top Performing Sales Managers?
They had a broad business acumen, great leadership skills, spectacular general management skills, and excellent coaching skills. In fact, many of them had been either professional or amateur coaches for sports teams in their personal lives. Many of them also had broad international experience, understanding how different people or organizations in different cultures work.
Some of them were strong in other customer facing jobs—such as operations, customer service, or marketing. One was even a driver! We had one top performing sales manager who is outperforming everyone in the program who was in accounting. Indeed, accounting is far away from sales, however, that sales manager had some sales experience when he was in college. He just chose a financial channel for his business experience. This sales manager had strong management and people skills and is able to analyze the data and work with his salespeople to drive incremental and fast change to the organization.
Top Salespeople Don’t Make the Best Sales Managers
I am sharing this with you because, far too often, we take our best salesperson and make him or her the sales manager. And they end up being a poor manager. Thus, we lose our top salesperson and manager. They end up going somewhere else because they failed. More importantly, I would encourage you to think away from your sales channel. Don’t think about hiring your best salesperson. If you are worried about them leaving, talk to them about different programs they could be in that are going to drive sales and increase their revenue and salary.
Management and sales are two completely different skills. The next time you are looking for a sales manager, look outside your organization. I guarantee you’ll get a better candidate than ever before.