I spend quite a lot of my time questioning the motives of would-be sales managers: is it the kudos that is attractive?; the lure of a new car?; the power that comes with authority?; increased responsibility?
The reality is that it can be one of the lonliest and most stressful jobs in the world. Being suddenly propelled from a situation where you are, by and large, totally responsible for your own achievement, into another where you are totally dependent on your team for your success. Is it any wonder that so many managers fail so early, in what could have been such a promising career?
When a salesperson gains promotion to management the first thing they have to do is to quickly acquaint themselves with a new set of working relationships - and a new set of rules.
The salesperson's primary working relationships are with customers. However the sales manager's is with the sales force i.e. his subordinates.
Essential Attributes Include:
- Personal drive (Ego).
- Needs to win battles (Individual sales).
- Able to work alone.
- Persuades customers to see his/her point.
- Needs selling skills, personal skills and knowledge.
- Able to work away from the office.
- Works well with people and numbers.
- Good at implementing sales tactics.
Successful Sales Manager:
- Submission of personal needs to the goals of the Company (Corporate drive).
- Needs to win the war (Meet corporate goals).
- Able to work with others.
- Persuades the sales team to see the Company's point.
- Needs management skills and marketing knowledge.
- Needs to work at the office.
- Works well with people, numbers, paperwork and the corporate hierarchy.
- Good at developing sales and marketing strategies.
The most common danger in having sales managers who are basically super salespeople is that "relations with subordinates" including the critical tasks of development and supervision may deteriorate.
Lack of skills and resources:
Even when they do recognize the importance of developing their salespeople, many sales managers find that they lack the skills and resources to do it effectively. It then becomes easier not to bother.
An Overwhelmed Manager:
To make things worse, most sales teams consist of a number of individuals with differing levels of experience and ability, so the whole issue of team development becomes too daunting for the overwhelmed manager to contemplate.
The Answer? - Divine Intervention From Above:
Sales Directors who recognise that the different roles played by salespeople and managers require different skill sets; factor those differences into their recruitment and selection of sales managers. Instead of promoting top-performers purely on the strength of their sales performance, these Sales Directors look for management candidates who can demonstrate an ability to help others strategise, work effectively with customers, and build their self-confidence. These Sales Directors recognise that coaching competence is absolutely pivotal and feature it highly in managers' performance reviews and remuneration packages.
Last week I mentioned that Jill Konrath has created a fantastic free e-book, "Can LinkedIn Increase Your Sales?" It is absolutely jam packed with superb advice for anyone wanting to make the most of the LinkedIn experience - make no mistake, business networking is here to stay - you will not want to miss this opportunity to devour her words of wisdom and excellent research, you can download it here
Tomorrow: This week I signed a publishing deal for my first book, "Tougher At The Top" and although it doesn't launch until the end of the year, work begins almost immediately. It will demand a dedicated site, blog, newsletter and considerable promotion. I know I have got three or four good titles in me and this is an exciting start - watch this space
Wherever you are, have a great w/e and be sure to join me next week when two very "big-hitters" are my guests on The JF Guest Author Spot; my very good friends and best selling authors, Paul McCord and Jeb Blount - JF
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