The Sales Manager Dilemma

As you may know, I've been spending more time with sales managers lately than with reps. Today as I was enjoying MLK Day, I found myself thinking about how stuck many sales managers are and how they got there.

You may also know that over the years, I've worked with hundreds of reps. Many were offered promotion to sales manager and before they accepted, they asked me what I thought about them being a sales manager. I typically just explained some of the differences between being a rep and managing reps. Dave Kurlan published Top 13 Requirements to Help You Soar as a Sales Manager. It's very close to what I used to say.

I'm not gonna rehash that article, but let's look at the sales manager from the perspective of the sales leader that he reports to (Sales VP or CEO) as well as the sales manager's self-perspective.

Does the Sales VP know what sales competencies each salesperson has mastered and how they compare to the sales competencies that the sales manager had mastered as a rep? If the sales manager is less than perfect where the reps need help, can/will the Sales VP coach the sales manager on how to coach his salespeople? Has the Sales VP developed a 3-6 month on-boarding plan to get the sales manager up and running?

Pretend for a minute that this is a snapshot of your salespeople.

Salespeopleand this is a snapshot of your sales manager.


There's not a lot of detail here, but there's enough to make a few observations and ask a few questions.

Notice that Tina has good sales management DNA, FIOF and she wants to be a sales manager. She's very coachable, but are you prepared to coach her?

She'll need some help with her Sales Management Competencies, but more importantly, her salespeople's Selling Competencies range from 22% to 63%. She's at 64%. What's the possibility that she needs help where her salespeople need help?

So, that's what the Sales VP sees. What about the sales manager? First, unless the Sales VP has had the team evaluated and shared the results with the sales manager, she hasn't seen this. Second, the sales manager has just been promoted. They're not gonna say that they need help to do their job. They're worried that the Sales VP will say, isn't that what I hired you for? Then, there's the financial side of the equation. The sales manager just got promoted, presumably from being a producer. Chances are that their production won't be replaced immediately. Second, it will cost $10K+ to fully on-board a sales manager over a three month period and more if the sales manager needs more help. Who pays? Does the sales manager in anticipation of increased compensation? Does the Sales VP in anticipation of increased sales or to avoid the negative impact on sales from unhappy customers?

It's a dilemma and the solution used to be that we can do it better than your sales manager. So, hire us to coach your sales managers and your salespeople. However, it works better when I coach your sales manager on how to coach their salespeople. Your salespeople get their direction and help from their sales manager using my experience and they learn to believe that the sales manager is awesome.

If you'd like to learn how it works, start here.

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