Think Recruit – Part Two


The second of two articles, looking at why the best salespeople don’t necessarily make the best sales managers.

If you missed Part One, it explored how exceptional salespeople don’t always make good sales managers. To demonstrate this, we looked at footballers-turned-managers. Invariably, average players tend to succeed in the managerial role, whereas outstanding players don’t. Part One also discussed why, instead of searching for your next sales manager internally, you should consider using a recruitment agency to fill the position – especially if you can capitalise on a fixed fee recruitment option.

In the meantime, this is what to consider when it comes to sales and management.

Team work. Not a familiar concept to the freewheeling salesperson. When they become sales managers, however, they need to set collective goals and metrics, empathise with colleagues, and act as a crutch for the team. Managerial roles hold no room for iconoclasm or flightiness; it’s about communication, observance, the ability to give good advice, and winning the respect of the team and company.

Learning to relinquish. Though a large obstacle to overcome, being able to delegate is an essential skill for all effective managers. A good sales manager cannot be involved in every deal, just as every team captain cannot score every goal. By developing and nurturing a good sales team, there should be no burden on the sales manager. Likewise, no salesperson wants to their hand held through an entire deal.

Think ahead. Strategic thinking is what differentiates salespeople and sales managers. Salespeople thrive on the next deal, the next goal, and long-term thinking generally doesn’t come into the equation. For sales managers, however, strategic thinking is imperative. A wise football manager may not put a vital player on the pitch in favour of another game – a cup tie, for instance. Likewise, a sales manager may consider putting effort into long-term (not short-term) deals. This could mean dealing with HR and finance departments to find viable ways to meet targets. Either way, for a salesperson who is used to being flavour of the month, it may mean confronting tricky situations and delivering bad news.

Succession planning and training. We can’t assume the next generation of talented managers will be home-grown. Very few people can make a seamless transition from salesperson to sales manager without any formal training. Even the Football Association has introduced coaching qualifications. Business owners must understand that there are core competencies needed for sales management, most of which differ vastly from the abilities needed to sell. Therefore, succession planning is paramount, as is a well-conceived programme for training, coaching and development. Being able to measure the potentiality of a salesperson is a key (but often overlooked) process. Many business owners mistakenly believe their top sellers have the natural ability to manage others. However, in some cases, it may be beneficial for the seller to stay on the telephone and reap the big deals, instead of languishing in management.

Ultimately, business owners want managers who are proven and trustworthy. That is why recruiting internally makes sense on the surface. However, external sales recruitment needn’t be difficult. After all, recruitment agencies are experts at finding the right people for the job.