To Promote or Not to Promote

Over recent weeks I’ve had a lot of conversations with growing companies that are looking to add a service/sales manager to their mix. Yesterday we had a great tele-seminar about the top traits that effective sales managers possess and how to help people grow in this role.

One of the critical mistakes we see time after time in our industry is promoting the longest tenured technician/team member, or sometimes even worse, promoting the top selling person to become the sales manager for the organization. Let’s be crystal clear that the specific roles that make a salesperson or selling technician successful are very different than the skills possessed by the most effective managers when it comes to leading a sales team.

I’m not going to say that there aren’t exceptions to the rule, as their almost always are. I also realize and witness that there are certain skills that do crossover between winning in sales and winning in sales management, but there are core competency differences that many of us miss when promoting from within.

Think about some top traits of a great selling technician or in-home sales person off the top of your head. Quick, don’t think too much, just the first three or four things that come to mind. What came to mind quickly? Oftentimes we’ll hear responses regarding top sellers as “big egos, hard to manage, love the spotlight, always want to win the top spot” along with many others.

Based on my experience of working with some of the best selling technicians and salespeople in this industry, I won’t argue any of those traits when it comes to good salespeople, but those traits don’t encompass everyone for sure. However, if you take someone that has a need for the “top of the board” spotlight, or they are really difficult to manage, how do you think they’ll excel as a manager?

Top sales managers have a few key things that I’d like to highlight in today’s column. There are many more than the three I’ll share today, but I want you to think about the fundamentals before you worry about training all the other competencies. Most of the time we get it wrong from the beginning and I’d like to help you avoid any mistakes you can when it comes to creating any management position.

Top Sales Managers must be willing to give up the top spot limelight – A top producer turned manager has to be willing to put their top sales people on a pedestal and feed the ego they desire of being the best at what they do. This is very hard for a lot of top performers to do because they are used to being the ones getting all the praise. There’s not a lot of praise for management in many cases.

Top Sales Managers must learn to focus on others – Top producers are usually self driven and are accustomed to looking out for ‘number one’ more than most other things. Once they assume a role of manager, their focus has to shift from ME to TEAM. I see too many managers still talking about what they did in the field, how great they were when they were in the truck and so on. Sorry, but nobody cares. I only care about what you can do to help the team improve, not necessarily what you did in your glory days.

Top Sales Managers must learn to delegate effectively – Anyone that gets great results on their own in our field is usually self reliant and self focused. They view themselves as the best at everything they do and that translates to a desire to do everything by themselves, so it gets done right. We see this same issue with every level of management as well as ownership but in order to grow any department, delegation must be mastered. That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of coaching and follow up, in fact those aspects are incredibly necessary as well.

These are three foundational things to help you think about your next management hire or promoting a top technician. There are many more things to consider, but getting clear about these fundamentals will put you on the right track.

Kenny