Going From Top Salesperson to Sales Vice-President Nearly Destroys Life, Part 1

It is not uncommon for a company’s leader to think the best candidate for the next sales manager is the company’s leading salesperson. There is a lot of logic behind this argument. After all if someone is able to close sales at a higher than average rate they should be able to do even better with an entire team of salespeople reporting to them.

As logical as this seems it is failed logic.

Larry was the leading sales person at his company for nine years in a row. He loved his product and got a rush every time someone signed a deal.

Not only was Larry closing deals at a higher rate than all of his peers, his deals had a consistently higher profit margin — and a higher average total retail. Larry credited this to his skills at knowing where to network for prospects, great listening skills during the sales process, and exceptional follow-up during the product-delivery process.

He worked for a family-owned business where the sales manager was the business owner. When it was time for the owner to enjoy the rewards of his efforts in the form of retirement, Larry was selected to take over the sales manager responsibilities.

Elation at the recognition of his sales efforts and being given a part ownership of the company fueled Larry initially. However before long Larry was dejected and ready to chuck it all.

Larry had fallen victim to the myth that one whom does a job well is best suited to manage his or her department. It led him to a position where sleep was in short supply and enjoyment was only a faded memory.

The reason this seemingly logical argument is that the talent required to be a great salesperson are different from the talent required to be a sales manager.

Salespeople must be skillful at:
· Listening actively for the buyer’s needs
· Finding solutions to problems
· Negotiating a solution beneficial for all parties
· Delivering quality external customer service
· Establishing trust that they are looking out for their customer’s needs

On the other hand, a sales manager must be able to:
· Listening actively for the salesperson’s challenges and desires
· Encouraging and mentoring salespeople so they find solutions to their problems
· Coaching salespeople in the negotiation process
· Delivering quality internal customer service
· Establishing trust that they are fighting for their salespeople’s needs AND wants
· Help salespeople draw on their untapped talents

Larry processed the first set of qualities and, like most salespeople turned sales vice-presidents, had a hard time shifting to the second set of qualities. It was not that he did not want to — he did not have the proper training to make the transition.

It had reached the point that Larry was ready to give up the Vice-President’s title and part ownership to go back to his old job.