I have titled this blog 'Why Sales Management Training alone does not create successful sales managers.' Why? And why do I think this is an important topic?
The fact is that the vast majority of sales managers are appointed to the role from a background of being a sales person, a successful sales person. The assumption seems to be that if you are a successful sales person you will make a successful sales manager. Wrong! I have seen more people stuggle in this role than succeed in it, and they may well have been super sales person AND received Sales Management Training.
What might be the problem? In fact, there might be many different problems! Let's take a look at the major ones.
- JOB DIFFERENCE
There is a massive difference between the two jobs. Sales people work alone, within a specific territory, to meet individual sales targets and account management objectives. They are solo operators who are entirely focused on the attainment of their sales bonus and gaining the reputation of being the best sales person in the organisation. Or at least they should be focused on these!
They plan their own time, make sales calls alone, and liaise with sales support people to deliver the products and services they have sold.
Sales managers on the other hand do not work on their own for individual results. They manage and lead a team of people and are rewarded on the success of the whole team. They need to have leadership and management Training, performance management, coaching, appraisal, communication and motivation skills. All these will be new to them when first appointed as will be the way they plan and manage their time. They will need to contribute to strategic and tactical discussions and problem solving with Marketing Staff, Product Managers, Operations Managers, Legal and Compliance Specialists to name but a few. Oh, and they will probably be responsible for managing a few key accounts themselves. They need to be personally productive in a completely new way!
Sales Management Training is of course designed to bridge the skills gap between the two jobs. But is it enough?
To be honest most managers are appointed to their jobs as managers from a technical job where like sales people they have been largely self- managing. Often they are not given any training to prepare them and the different type of motivation they need is rarely discussed with them. No wonder that so many newly appointed managers struggle.
You see the motivation requirements are completely different.
Good managers are motivated by being able to use the type of skills listed above. They need to be able to understand people as individuals, support them, spend time with them, coach and develop them, and if necessary discipline them. They really do need to have a desire to get the best out of people. Lastly, I would venture to suggest that THEY EVEN LIKE PEOPLE! How often have I heard from team members that their manager not only does not like managing they don't even like people! No wonder they struggle in their management role.
So to appoint the right people as sales managers you need to check out what really motivates them. Sales Management Training can help to provide a certain amount of new motivation but only if the right candidates are selected for it. The natural gifting and talents to do the job must already exist in them.
If I am a sales person my mindset is simple. I am short term focused, I like quick results, I think tactically, I am action oriented, and I get a buzz from getting sales. My people interactions are fairly short and varied. I can plan my own time and be flexible as to how I use it. To put it crudely I am really quite a SELFISH person working IN the business for my largely own ends.
If I am a sales manager, I still need the results driven mindset of a sales person but more than that I need to be motivated by working closely with my individual sales people and my sales team as a whole. In a sense I am working ON the business by helping others to be more effective working IN the business. I need to be excited by strategic thinking and planning, creating and sharing my vision, managing and measuring the results of my team members and the team as a whole, training, coaching and mentoring, and team building, my mindset is OTHERS oriented and not SELF oriented.
In my view these are the main differences between the job of a sales person and that of a sales manager.
As I said earlier, Sales Management Training is vitally important to bridge the skills gaps but possibly more important is choosing the right person in the first place. This needs a careful analysis of the person using some or all of the following:
- Psychometric tests
- Values clarification exercise
- Talents and strengths survey
- Job fit survey
- 'Flow' analysis
- Use of an assessment/development centre
- Job shadowing
- Behavioural event interviews
- Analysis of previous performance appraisals
- Review of personal development plans
- Trial period in the new job
- Peer group input on trial period experiences
In summary before appointing new people to the job of a sales manager look beyond Sales Management Training to ensure their success. Make absolutely sure the person is a fit from the JOB, MOTIVATION and MINDSET angles.
Be certain to choose the best candidate because the best get better at what they are gifted to do, and for this job you need the very best people you can find!