So often I hear CEOs complain about their sales manager. “He was the best salesperson I’d ever had but once I promoted him, his team has rarely performed up to par!”
A sales manager does not need to be your best salesperson because unless they can teach someone through osmosis how to sell, that particular skill is not transferrable unless it is skillfully taught and accounted for. The ego drive that most successful salespeople have is not one of the characteristics, you need to produce and nurture other great salespeople. Therefore, I would advise to never promote your best salesperson to manager because two things can happen:
• You will potentially lose the level of sales you had been getting with him/her.
• Your sales manager will become “the closer” for the salespeople and you will not be cultivating sales people, just “lead finders” who will limit your growth opportunity.
Here are the things you need to look for in hiring a sales leader:
Strong coaching. To be a great coach, listening is the most important skill. Helping people reach their own best potential is what you want to look for, not teach them to do what I do. What is this salesperson’s best potential? Their weakest skill? The job of coaching will help a salesperson discover these things and get better every day.
It takes leadership. A leader is someone that doesn’t tell someone what to do but asks questions and gets them to realize their own best outcome. The best leaders have the skill of someone who asks for input, then helps with the suggestion. When someone self-discovers an answer to a question it becomes theirs. When it is theirs, they learn.
Keeping the team members accountable. This is the one of the most overlooked and important criteria. As CEOs you will often hear, “I don’t want to babysit them” or “I don’t care what they do as long as they hit their numbers.” This thinking is dangerous. Having no idea what the reason is that someone is successful or not is the fault of the sales manager completely.
How do we help them track their successes and how they reached them? How do we know what advice to give if we have no idea what they had been doing to get them into the situation that they are in?
In your future search for a great sales team leader, think differently about what you need.
For more information, visit salesleadersalliance.com
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell.” For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” or email sales questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.