This month’s issue of Training & Development magazine makes some excellent, data-supported observations about why sales managers struggle to be successful.
While this article addresses one of the major reasons sales managers are set up for failure, there’s more to the story.
We can’t ignore the impact to revenue when a top sales performer is promoted to near incompetence when they become sales managers. I’ve painfully seen so many organizations fall into the deathtrap of believing they can ease the strain on revenue production by making their newly promoted sales manager a player-coach.
In theory it sounds reasonable, but you’ve just given your brand new manager competing—in many ways, conflicting—priorities, further compromising their ability to be successful.
Second, when a top sales performer is either eager to move into sales management or enticed to being promoted, one has to question his/her motivations.
Think about it: Top sales producers are typically lone rangers, competitive and (let’s face it) a little arrogant. Why make the move if they are a top producer?
Are they burnt out and looking for a way to kick back and still make decent money? Is something changing in their territory that will cause them to have to work harder? Or do they want to have their cake and eat it, too, by attempting a player-coach role?
Well, allow me to make a confession: I was the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too girl.
I just wasn’t quite ready to give up the status and compensation of a top producer, so I convinced my boss I could carry a multi-million dollar quota and manage the sales team. It was a classic case of trying to do too much and ending up not being able to do either to the best of my abilities.
There are many reasons sales managers can be set up to fail, but sometimes we have to look at the not-so-obvious answers—the push-and-pull that come from shifting responsibilities and complicated dynamics that all have revenue implications.
Fortunately for me, I had a boss who saw exactly what the problem was. In fact, he’d anticipated it. He had encouraged me not to try to do both, but had relented only at my insistence.
And when I finally cried “uncle,” he didn’t even say “I told you so.”