Great salespeople don’t always make great sales managers. Research reveals why many of these promotions fail, and 3 competency gaps that stand in the way of success.
When a new sales manager position is available, many times the promotion goes to a top-performing salesperson. But, success in a current role does not guarantee success at the next level. That’s why 40% of promotions fail, according to our partners at Pinsight.
The risk is two-fold: Promoting the wrong person puts an ill-equipped leader in charge, and at the same time, removes a top performer from the sales team. A near coin-flip success rate isn’t good enough to gamble on. You need a way to tip the odds in your favor.
At OutMatch, we assess over 50,000 salespeople and sales managers per year, and the assessment data reveals 3 major competency gaps between the roles. These are the areas where the biggest shifts must occur before great salespeople can become great sales managers:
Communication style: too assertive.
Assertiveness is a personality trait that gives salespeople their edge. It helps them prospect, pursue the right people, stay persistent, and close deals. But for sales managers, high assertiveness can be a liability. The natural tendency to dominate conversations may prevent sales managers from listening to the needs of their team.
Temper your assertiveness: When communicating with others, new sales managers should practice active listening, ask questions before giving their opinion, and remember to confront the issue rather than the person they’re talking to.
Strong at delivering, not driving results.
The shift from delivering to driving results is a challenging one. Successful salespeople are used to doing things themselves, while sales managers are responsible for helping others achieve their goals. Sales managers must be able to slow down, see the bigger picture, and ensure that the entire team is on track.
Focus less on details, and slow your work pace slightly: New managers should schedule strategic breaks to reset and remind themselves of the bigger picture. To avoid getting bogged down in details, a good question to ask is, “How is this task contributing to the overall goal?”
Organized, but not highly strategic.
Successful salespeople are pros at managing themselves, their tasks, and their time. But at a strategic planning level, sales managers must think realistically and carefully – two traits that probably weren’t needed earlier in their careers, and can even get in the way of strong sales performance. Once promoted, however, these traits become crucial.
Cultivate realistic and strategic thinking: Before jumping into action, new sales managers should pause to ask questions and evaluate options. It’s also helpful to identify 2-3 great decision makers to run ideas by.
Knowing these competency gaps gives sales leaders the power to be proactive. You can assess these competencies to make better promotion decisions, create targeted leadership development plans, and increase your sales manager success rate. To learn more about what makes salespeople successful, check out Charm, Myths, and the Secret to Better Sales Teams: