5 things to consider before promoting your top sales person to management

Back to blog 29 November 2017

A sales superstar – someone who goes above and beyond to produce exceptional results for the team and wider business – is every sales manager’s dream. But before you rush to promote your top sales person into managerial positions, step back and consider whether they really have the potential and ability to lead a team. Successful sales performance doesn’t guarantee successful management – just as the best sports player on a team doesn’t necessarily make for a good captain.

With one in five UK workers resigning because of a bad manager, it’s crucial that your sales team has the right leadership in place to perform at their best. Promoting your top sales person may seem like a good idea, especially if they’re eager for responsibility and progression, but there is a significant difference between the role of a sales person and a manager. In order to maintain a high-performing team, you’ll need to consider the following traits in potential new managers:

The ability to see the bigger picture

Effective leaders can not only focus on the day-to-day tasks they have in front of them, but they can also step back and see the bigger picture. While management styles can vary hugely, a good manager will know when to reflect on how things are going with their team’s overall performance, consider alternative strategies and take a high-level approach to management.

It can be easy for managers to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of sales, and some can be tempted to turn to micro-managing – particularly if they are exceptional sales people themselves who have a particular style of doing things. To move from a sales person to a sales manager, your team members should have a deep understanding of your business’s core values and goals, and where the sales function fits into this. While analysis of targets, numbers and KPIs are all important in assessing the performance of the sales team, a good leader will go beyond that and look at trends and lifecycles that paint a bigger picture of the overall business.

The ability to lead

A manager needs to be more than someone who can simply sell well – they need to be able to inspire, motivate and ultimately lead their team. Indeed, a Google study on effective management found that technical expertise is in fact the least important thing for a leader to have – instead, it’s more important for managers to have a connection with their team and be open and accessible for other sales people to approach them. They should be able to push themselves and others around them to meet their goals while also being approachable enough that their team feels comfortable asking for guidance and feedback.

Just under 94% of British workers think that strong leadership is important in the workplace, and 41% think that bad leadership can leave the workforce demotivated, according to CV-Library. To ensure your new sales manager is leading the team in the right direction, look for those who are comfortable working together, helping others and imparting positivity. An autonomous sales person who works in a silo may get great individual results, but won’t necessarily be a strong manager.

The ability to be an effective coach

There is a significant difference between a social sales person who gets on well with others and one who can work productively and coach them to perform to the best of their abilities. Leaders who are effective coaches are more likely to have committed employees, according to Zenger Folkman, and inspire their teams to go above and beyond. Effective coaches will focus on training and development, are always willing to help their peers and are quick to provide feedback, both bad and good. If you have a sales person who is skilled at prospecting, calling, questioning, negotiating and closing, that’s a great start – but they need to be able to help others build these skills in order to be an effective coach and manager.

The ability to work as part of a team

Teamwork is crucial for everyone in an organisation, but without buy-in from managers and executives it can struggle to get off the ground. Millennials are particularly motivated by teamwork, according to CIPD, and 97% of executives, employees and educators believe that a lack of alignment within a team directly impacts the outcome of a task or project.

It’s clear that teamwork makes employees and organisations thrive, but how much of a team player is your top sales person? A high performer who doesn’t share their insights or approaches may hit all their targets, but will not be a good manager for the team. Instead, promote a sales person who is always looking to share knowledge, exchange ideas and congratulate others on their successes.

The desire to do a good job

The final question you must ask yourself before promoting your top sales person to a management position is whether or not they truly want it. Don’t offer someone a new role just because you can’t see an alternative – they need to be a great fit for the job, and genuinely want to do it. If there is someone in your sales team who has exhibited a willingness to take on new challenges (whether that’s a change in territory, higher targets, training and mentoring new starters or running team meetings), is eager to learn and develop and is happy to help others achieve more, they could be the perfect candidate for a promotion to management.

We can help

Whether you’re looking to recruit someone externally to join your management team or train and develop someone internally to take up the job, we can help. Contact us here to see how we can work together.