Front line sales managers are a jack of all trades: sales experts, strategists, coaches, mentors, psychologists, and cheerleaders. Their highest priority is making everyone around them better. This means not only recruiting, but sustaining a well-rounded team that has the tools and trainings it needs to be successful.
The best sales managers make this look easy. They pave the way for top sales reps to do their jobs, thus making the role look more attractive. And often, the people in sales manager roles performed well as sales reps. They knew the business inside and out. They consistently made quota. They were ambitious.
Unfortunately that promotion doesn’t always make sense.
Sales reps’ priorities are different than sales managers’ priorities.
Sales reps pay attention to their sales quota, and little else. They are selfish with their time, caring only about their performance as an individual. That might mean canceling a meeting to take an important phone call or making a last minute trip to close a deal. Their results dictate how they spend their time. And great sales managers want them doing that stuff, so they provide air cover for them.
Managers, on the other hand, know time is not their own anymore. Their offices are now training rooms, and they are head instructors. As leaders, managers are on call for any teaching opportunity. That means giving ongoing, constructive feedback that sales reps can use to develop their skills. Top performing sales reps know the secret sauce to achieving high performance is learning from the best, and they value this feedback.
So obviously, not every high performing sales rep is primed to be a good manager. If a rep is consistently more concerned with closing his or her own deals than helping a teammate close a deal, that can be a red flag. And that’s ok. Leave management to the individuals who are more interested in coaching than selling.
Having your sales manager as a player and a coach is a terrible idea.
Your sales team needs a leader, coach, and manager. If your sales managers are active in the field, they can’t focus on training and developing new talent. Instead, let them focus on the role that will be the highest value to the organization: chief advisor.
When your managers are taking sales calls, they risk the possibility of overwhelming their sales reps. Reps might feel intimidated and compete with their managers to stay at the top of the sales leaderboard. Morale sinks. Motivation is skewed. Trust is lost.
How you know when you have a great sales manager.
So how can you spot all-star sales managers? You’ll find them in the office, acting as the number one cheerleader for the team. You might describe them as humble, selfless, empathetic, and inspiring. They check their ego at the door.
Managers aren’t in it for the glory; they’re in it to make heroes out of their sales team. They work hard to do what’s best for the team. Instead of closing deals, they enable their reps to do so and give them all the credit.
Great managers use their leadership to develop a strong team. They know that effective managers lead by example and are committed to the team’s (and company’s) successes.
Not everyone is up for the job. It’s a lot of work to be a coach, a mentor, and a leader. But, it’s also incredibly rewarding. Know who’s best for what role, and you’ll create a kick-ass team.