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Why Top Sales Reps Don't Always Make Good Sales Managers

Good Sales Managers

Perhaps the most common error made by organizations trying to fill sales management slots is the tendency to promote a strong sales performer into a sales management role.

In some cases, the salesperson who is appointed to be sales manager is the last one standing after the smoke has cleared. In organizations with high turnover this is far more common than in ones with a lower loss of personnel.

With those having lower turnover it may not be the last one standing who becomes the sales manager, but the one with the most tenure or highest sales volume. Unfortunately, neither of these scenarios necessarily yield the best candidates for this difficult, demanding job, either. In fact, it is rare when they do.

5 Reasons Top Salespeople Don't Always Make Good Sales Managers

1. Superior sales skills don't automatically translate into superior sales management skills.

Sales management – and sales coaching – is about developing others and holding them accountable, while sales is really about focusing on oneself and the customer.

2. A reluctance to place someone into the sales management position who has not proven his or her sales mettle to the sales team they will lead.

Leadership skills don't necessarily coincide with strong selling skills. While a sales background is important from a credibility and coaching standpoint, top sales performance isn't a prerequisite.

3. An assumption that unless someone has been the number one salesperson the sales team will not respect or follow that person.

Salespeople won't necessarily follow the top salesperson, but they'll follow the individual who invests the time and energy to help them get better at their craft.

4. The belief that every salesperson actually wants to move into sales management.

In my experience, this just isn't true. I've spoken with so many reps over the years who don't have management aspirations. They want to work with customers and worry about themselves.

5. The idea that industry experience coupled with field sales experience automatically qualifies someone for a sales management position.

It may seem easier to add industry experience to sales experience to equal a good sales manager, but the typical motive behind this tactic is to avoid the long – and frustrating – process required to find a top sales manager. Quite frankly, it looks like an easy fix... but it rarely is.

The Bottom Line

The real facts are that when a highly successful salesperson is taken from the field and placed into a sales management position two potentially bad things can occur. First, the organization has lost the productivity of a top sales professional. Second, there is often an unwilling or unqualified sales manager in place.

Unfortunately, there are circumstances where both occur. And that’s a real disaster.


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