#5 – Sales Managers who are Super-Reps and not Sales Leaders

Stop Promoting your Top Sales Rep!

It is one of the most common mistakes that CEOs and Owners make.  It starts with the need for a sales leader.   Where do you look?   Well, Johnny has been a great rep for a long time and he deserves the shot.  After all, he is good at finding and closing business.  He should be able to teach the rest of the team to do what he does AND we give him a reward for being so outstanding.  Perfect, right?   Sadly, the answer is typically a resounding “no.”   All that you’ve done is take a good revenue producer out of the field and put him/her in a position to fail.

Research has shown that over 70% of first time sales leaders fail.  Then they get fired.  Why does this happen?   Well if you think about it, it is not that puzzling.  Good sales people are good at:

  • Finding business
  • Uncovering needs
  • Differentiating your solution from others
  • Navigating the customer’s buying process and closing business

We’ve talked to a number of great reps that cannot really articulate how they do it so well.  One rep who brought in over 60% of the company’s revenue told me “I don’t know how I do it, Gary.  Honestly it’s a blur.  I just start talking and somehow I know the right question to ask next and then I close the business.”    Believe me, this is not the guy you want to teach others.  Yet CEOs promote people like this over and over again expecting different results.

Now think about the traits of an effective sales leader:

  • Plan – give direction to the team.  Keep them focused on the right prospects in the right markets with the right strategy.
  • Coach/Mentor – I’m not just talking about deal coaching.  Most sales leaders can do that.  I’m talking about making them better.  Constantly developing their skills around asking questions, getting to decision makers, negotiating, planning, etc.  More sales leaders lack this quality than have it.
  • Manage performance – This includes holding people accountable to metrics and plans, helping them make adjustments and helping them stay motivated.
  • Hire and Onboarding – This is one of the biggest jobs a leader has to do.  Make the team better by developing and also by hiring effectively.
  • Communicate – This is often overlooked and one of the top reasons leaders get fired.  They need to be good at giving management a solid, realistic view of what is happening so executives can plan the business.
  • Sell – Yes, it is extremely helpful if they know how to sell, but we believe this is not even on the top of the list of sales leader traits.

Now compare these two bulleted lists.  These are very different skills that are required to do a very different job.  Just because someone is good at one does not mean they will be good at the other.  Just ask Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Bart Starr and a slew of others who couldn’t make the leap, from player to coach.

The sales leader is one of the most important people in the organization when it comes to generating revenue.  Make sure you hire someone with the right skills.

This entry was posted in Top Ten Factors that Stop Sales Growth by Gary Braun. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and owner of Pivotal Advisors dedicated to improving sales force effectiveness by consulting with CEO’s and sales leaders on the critical elements required for superior performance. Gary is experienced in planning and implementing sales strategies in highly competitive technology markets. He works with sales leaders to identify key areas within sales team for improvement, instruction on the use of technology, and how it helps provide structure for teh sales leader to get the most out of his/her team and be more productive within the organization. As a sales leader, Gary's teams had continual growth in year over year's sales and led successful engagements with companies including Microsoft, Symantec, VMWare, Compuware, Sun Microsystems and Electronic Arts.

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