For a lot of salespeople, the move into management is a logical one. They’ve set their own territories on fire for most of their careers, and now they’re ready to move on to a bigger challenge… and more responsibility. They already know the products and the market, and upper management loves it: who better to lead the sales staff to record-shattering numbers than someone who has been there before?
Occasionally, it works out that way. For many, however, their first move to management ends up being a nightmare filled with missed targets, a dysfunctional sales team, and a sea of paperwork.
Why does it happen that way? Why can’t the best and brightest move seamlessly into leadership positions?
Here are the three biggest reasons so many sales superstars fail as sales managers:
They try to be managers instead of leaders. This is the biggest, and most fundamental, mistake new sales managers tend to make – they concentrate on being sales managers instead of sales leaders. Think about it this way: the role of a manager is to monitor employees, track quotas, keep schedules, and fill out paperwork.
Leaders, on the other hand, work like coaches, pulling the best out of every member of their team. Instead of controlling their employees, they inspire and empower them, making them into stronger, more self-sufficient producers along the way.
They don’t use their time well. While this could be said of many kinds of professionals, sales managers in particular often struggle to make the transition from worrying only about their own production and accounts to paying attention to dozens of different accounts and situations at once. Add to that the commitments of meetings, training duties, reports, and their own career development, and you can see why it’s far from easy to stay on top of it all. Even so, there’s no such thing as a successful sales leader who is sloppy with his or her time, so it’s a skill you simply have to master.
They want their teams to imitate their style, not develop unique techniques. Nearly every new sales manager, in every industry or country, has found him or herself thinking at one time or another: “why can’t my producers just do it like I would?”
This isn’t just wishful thinking; it’s short-sighted. That’s because every member of your team has different strengths and talents. To wish they would be more like you ignores the idea that they could be even more successful by developing their own style. As the leader, it’s your job to inspire them to do their best work, but not necessarily to get it done the way you would.
Making the jump from sales superstar to sales manager isn’t always as easy as it seems in your imagination. Avoid these common errors, however, and learn to act like a sales leader, and you just might make a great transition in no time.