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Signs That Your Top Salesperson Won’t Make a Great Manager

Josiane Feigon Today’s post is by Josiane Feigon, author of Smart Sales Manager and Smart Selling on the Phone and Online and founder of TeleSmart Communications.  




Does this scenario sound familiar?

You’ve got a great team of inside salespeople and one of your star players, Bulldog Bob, is killing it. His numbers are higher than everyone else’s – he’s a total bulldog when it comes to chasing deals and closing business. He is self-sufficient, requires little guidance, and is independent. Bob has been in sales for a while and has progressed from all the various teams. His team is inspired by his success. 

Bob is always in your office talking about deals and his future. He tells you that recruiters are tracking him down, enticing him with some nice new offers. He is aggressive, knows what he wants, and reminds you about that promise you made many months back about putting him into a management role.

You have just brought in eight new hires in the last six weeks, and they need to be managed quickly – you want to show some revenue increases fast. You’ve been scattered lately and have several more teams that also report to you. You decide to promote Bob because you know he can hit the ground running and transfer some of his special sales talent to his team. 

What are the chances of survival? Pay attention to the following clues, because they spell disaster:

  1. Those independent, self-sufficient, “bulldog” qualities are great, but they might alienate the team.

  2. Bob’s aggressive personality may be misunderstood as micromanaging, or worse, salespeople may fear they’ll be fired.

  3. When a salesperson reminds you about what he or she wants and tells you that a recruiter is calling, that’s a threat. Chances are this person will threaten his or her team in the same way. 

  4. Just because a salesperson is killing his or her numbers, that is absolutely no guarantee that this same salesperson will kill it as a manager. The two are completely different.

When directors and VPs are scattered or too busy to help coach, mentor, and develop their managers, disasters happen, and by the time managers figure out what happened, it’s usually too late.

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Russ Ackerman

I think one of the key issues here is that a sales manager is much more than just a good sales person or a manager. A sales manager must also be a leader. He/she must have the ability to influence others. Most top sales people will not make great managers because they are not usually team players. They are concerned about themselves.
They are very competitive and like to work on their own.
To be an outstanding manager you must be a team player and be concerned about the overal success of the company

Stephen Anderson

Management is a skill, it is teachable to some extent but sometimes the people you to teach that to do not understand how to acquire that skillset. It is possible that they might be able to working two different areas, but in all likelihood if they are in one area where they need an aggressive personality, that very characteristic is going to prevent them from being an effective manager.

Sometimes it is more important to keep someone in place and find some other way to reward them. Even if it means them leaving to take a management position elsewhere.

Terrific post. Such a timely reminder that serving effectively as a manager is a very different task from managing one's own performance. One might think this would be universally recognized, but it's clearly not. Thanks for sharing.


And---- why would you take a top salesperson off the street?

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