Those of us in Sales have heard of or experienced the situation where the “best” salesperson in the group is anointed as the new Sales Manager after a change occurs is leadership. First of all the general opinion of this approach to installing new sales leadership is criticized. Just because a person in your sales organization is a star performer doesn’t mean they are capable of now leading a team of sales people. I argue that you just took your best salesperson out of the field and put him or her in charge of the team. They won’t be doing much selling anymore, they will be managing. The biggest issue is that most star performing sales people who have been placed in this situation and find themselves as the Sales Manager with little to no training or management skill – now what?
I recently read an article about building a case for investing in the Sales Manager first and the article provided some statistics that were eye opening. Most investments in sales improvement or productivity are focused on the salespeople. Investments in frontline Sales Managers is still not a top priority for most companies. If an investment in one person can impact the performance of six, eight, or ten salespeople, why wouldn’t you prioritize the investment in the Sales Manager?
The new role is much different than life when you were the star sales person, in control of your own performance, doing your own thing, and in most cases, very independent and in charge. Sales Managers are no longer independent. They are depended upon by a group of people that need coaching, guidance, skill development, mentoring, and in some cases, babysitting. Life is quite different and we haven’t even added the pressure from senior management, customers and other internal organizations.
The more tragic consequence of not investing in your Sales Superstar turned Sales Manager is that when the performance of this person is now left up to them to “figure it out”, poor performance and morale tends to set in. The remaining top performers may leave the organization because of the lack of leadership or a myriad of other reasons. The mediocre and poor performers will most likely remain and you now have an extremely underperforming sales group.
Spend time to invest in your Sales Managers no matter how new or seasoned they are because the can drive and grow top performers as long as they are receiving the coaching, management skill development and attention that they deserve. Make sure you have a Coach who is Coaching the Coach.