Do successful sales leaders make the best sales managers? Sales leaders are motivated to achieve the heights of financial success and acclaim, therefore they are the people most often elevated to management. A promotion based solely on sales results, though, is not an ideal solution for a management position. The strengths of a top salesperson are not necessarily compatible with the ability to manage and motivate the performance of others. Leadership in sales and leadership in sales management require different strengths and abilities.
The transition from a sales leader to a sales manager can be difficult. After being the top dog in an organization, managers need to recognize and appreciate that their salespeople are now the top dogs. It can be difficult to develop the skill of giving recognition, especially when subordinates surpass their success.
One of the most difficult realities of a sales manager is to understand that direct control of sales is impossible. In order to have a team of sales leaders, the successful manager must learn to be a leader of people, which is not the same as a leader of sales. Not every member of a sales team is going to be a top producer. Too often, the sales manager simply ignores those not making quotas, while concentrating only on the top performers. The leader-manager needs to take on an attitude that encompasses the entire team, treating all members equally, while learning what motivates each member.
In his book, The One Thing You Need to Know, Mark Buckingham outlines a number of concepts about great managing, great leading and sustained individual success:
- Great managers excel at turning one person’s talent into performance.
- Great managers are catalysts—they speed up the reaction between each employee’s talents and the company’s goals.
- The core talents underpinning all great leadership are optimism and ego.
- Properly defined, the opposite of a leader isn’t a follower. The opposite of a leader is a pessimist.
- The four skills of management: select good people; set clear expectations; recognize excellence immediately and praise it; and show you care for your people.
- The three things you need to know about a person in order to lead him or her effectively are: strengths and weaknesses (self-awareness doesn’t drive performance, self-assurance does); the triggers that switch on those strengths and weaknesses; and learning style (analyzing, doing and watching.)
When sales leaders are asked if the best salespeople make the best sales managers, the answer is almost always “no.” That’s because salespeople and sales managers succeed in different ways. The salesperson is the hunter and the playmaker, while the manager is the coach. But each is integral, and both contribute to the needs of the customer and the success of the company. iBi