The Business Executive's Dilemma:
Should I Promote My Top Sales Person to Sales Manager?
By Lee B. Salz
Before moving your top sales person into sales management, there
are some key considerations.
Early Greek mythology
tells tales of sailors lured by Sirens. Their sweet music mesmerized the sailors and led them to believe that the illusion
was reality. Ultimately, those sailors who blindly followed the tunes crashed their ships on the rocks and their boats sank.
lure business executives and small business owners too. The song that the Sirens sing has one line… "Promote my
top sales person, put six people underneath them, and generate six times the sales." And, like the sailors, many business
executives and their companies have been led into harm's way.
A promotion? The first issue with promoting your top sales person into sales management is that it's not a
promotion at all. The promotion perception is the first way the Sirens get you. Sales management is not a job elevation, it's
a job change. If you consider this move as a promotion, you probably send a congratulatory email and hold a luncheon for the
new sales manager. A nice handshake is offered and the new manager is sent to achieve grandeur. This approach delights the
Sirens and your ship is sunk!
If you handle this as a
job change, your approach is completely different. Since this is a new job, you provide training and mentoring as well as
monitor their performance. As the manager of the new sales manager, your role is to help them successfully assimilate into
their new role.
Top Seller = Top Sales Manager?
Before we go any further, we need to take a step back. The second way the Sirens trick you is they lead you to believe all
great sales people can become great sales managers. Some certainly do. And, some pretty good sales people become rock star
managers. And some great sales people fail miserably at sales management.
Before moving your top sales person into
the sales management ranks, consider the ramifications of this move. You are taking your rainmaker out of the sales game where
they've generated millions of dollars for your company. While your hope is that your theory of "disciple selling"
(placing six people underneath the new manager and getting six times the sales) becomes proven, that is rarely the
case. If it was so easy to clone a rainmaker, every company would do it. Quite frankly, the "disciple selling" dream
is flawed. Again, you've been duped by the Sirens. The sole reason to place someone in the role of sales manager is
that you feel that they have the potential to succeed in that capacity.
What does all of this tell you? You need
a process and methodology to evaluate sales management candidates...just like you evaluate sales candidates. And, even though
the rainmaker got on your radar screen because they blew out their quota, their sales management candidacy should be handled
the same way you would if you were considering an external sales management candidate. Don't skip any steps in the evaluation
Profile the Role. This evaluation
starts with the development of your profile of the ideal sales manager for your company. Think about what it takes to succeed
in the role and document those elements as part of your profile. Once you've prepared your list, identify each element
as either required or desired.
With your profile developed, the next step is to develop a screening
process that allows you to compare and contrast the candidate with the profile. It is critical during this process that
you ascertain why this successful seller aspires for management and ensure that you set clear and accurate expectations of
a day in the life as a sales manager in your company. In addition to interviews, you may want to consider tools to help
identify a synergistic match like personality and proficiency assessments.
If your rainmaker succeeds in the evaluation
process, you've found your sales manager. If not, don’t lose the revenue! Keep this seller selling!
Positioning Your New Sales Manager to Succeed.
With your new sales manager hired, there are four keys to making the venture successful.
1. Support. The first is dealing with the sales team. Yesterday, she was a peer. Today, she
is the manager. The new manager needs your help in developing managerial respect. The reaction to the new manager will be
mixed. Some will be fully supportive, but there will also be some on the team who are jealous and attempt
to undermine her efforts. The key message for you to deliver to your new sales manager is that she has your unwavering support.
2. Mentoring. Your new
manager needs a resource to guide them through the neophyte status…a mentor. Don't just look within the organization
for a mentor candidate. Many sales management consultants mentor and develop new sales managers. The role of the mentor is
to bridge the managerial knowledge, skills, and experience gap.
Training. Chances are that your new sales manager has never been taught how to hire a sales person, have a
difficult conversation with an employee, or develop a sales compensation plan. These are all skills that can be taught. If
you aren't will to provide the new sales manager with skills training, don't put them in the role. They will fail!
Expectation Setting. Your new sales manager should be provided with a scorecard that tells them how they are going to
be measured. In most companies, sales managers are measured on revenue…but that is only one component of the scorecard.
Based on the role and responsibilities of the sales manager, the scorecard could include metrics like profitability, cost
of sales, turnover, sales cycle, forecast accuracy, etc.
Sales is one of the few professions
where moving into management isn't always the best path for the sales person or the company. Make sure the person you
put in this critical role is the right sales manager for your company. After all, while this person may not be directly generating
sales, they are the one responsible for the company achieving its revenue goals. Don't let the Sirens lure your business
into trouble. Develop the systems to help you make the best decisions.
Not sure how to interview sales people for a sales management job, send me an email for my 29 favorite questions when interviewing new sales manager candidates.
Lee B. Salz is a sales management strategist who specializes in helping companies build scalable, high-performance sales
organizations through hiring the right sales people, on-boarding them effectively and efficiently, and aligning their sales
activity with business objectives using his sales architecture® methodology. He is the President of Sales Architects, the C.E.O. of Business Expert Webinars and author of “Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager.” Lee is a member of the Editorial Advisory
Board and featured columnist with Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Look for Lee's new book in 2010 titled, "The Sales Marriage”
where he shares the secrets to hiring and on-boarding the right sales people. He is a results-driven sales management consultant
and a passionate, dynamic speaker. Lee can be reached at lsalz@SalesArchitects.net or 763.416.4321.
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