Are you scratching your head yet wondering what I am talking about? You’d really think top salespeople would make the best sales managers, would you not? I can hear you all now, “Come on Rich I want my best guys running the whole squad.” They understand the sales personality; they understand the sales job requirements; and if they come to the position of sales manager by promotion they understand the company they work for. So why don’t they make great sales managers?
Well this is certainly not an absolute. Some sales people have made great sales managers, but by and large the best sales managers are not the best sales people and vice-versa. The reason for this can be found in the shark. Sharks have to swim to live. They must keep moving constantly just to be alive. A great sales person is the same in many ways: they must prospect and develop business and be on the hunt constantly; and their competitive spirit and drive to constantly win must fuel them every minute on the job.
A great sales manager on the other hand must have a steady hand on the tiller. They have to think like a chess player, always many moves ahead. They don’t get to experience the hunt, let alone the thrill of the kill (if you will….too much right?). In other words they have to possess a much more even keeled personality, less like a shark and more like a tiger, effective at steady leadership and able to handle any situation from a customer turn-over, to a team member’s personal troubles.
Yes they understand the sales personality, but typically only their own. And usually top sales people have trouble with empathy, a necessary trait in any good sales manager. Yes they understand the job requirements but every salesperson is different and they may not understand what motivates someone other than themselves, or how to get the best from someone struggling to get to the middle of the pack. Finally that point about understanding the company, aside form understanding the market in which they compete, it’s much more important for a quality sales manager to understand the dynamics of his or her team. What makes them tick? What keeps those sharks swimming?
To sum up, if you’re hiring a sales manager look at personality and character make-up first and sales results second…you’ll thank yourself later.