superstar-salesIn my last article I discussed the fact that most sales managers (82% to be exact) are not effective coaching their salespeople.  Yikes!  That is a big percentage of folks that aren’t good at doing what they need to be doing most of the time.  So why is that?  I think it is because they don’t actually know what they are supposed to be doing.  Let’s face it, the vast majority of sales managers never went to sales manager training school.  They were more than likely a good salesperson who got promoted to that role while their boss crossed his or her fingers that it would work out.  Okay, so now they are expected to be superstar sales managers.   It is actually fairly rare that we find superstar salespeople who make superstar sales managers.  I found it once recently, and wrote this case study about it.

Further the newly anointed sales manager probably just mimics what he has seen, not knowing any better.  And, what he had been exposed to was probably a bad sales manager possessing ineffective coaching skills.  So are there any crossover skills between sales managers and salespeople?  Where are our sales managers supposed to come from if not from the sales ranks?  Well the answer is there are a few skills necessary in productive salespeople and in effective sales managers, but not very many.

As you probably know I am a big believer in using sales specific assessment tools to figure out what is going on in a sales team.  In particular I am a disciple of Objective Management Group and they have a fairly comprehensive way of looking at the competencies of both sales managers and salespeople.  I trust their research because they have evaluated over 600,000 of salespeople and managers in the past 20 years.  Unbelievably there are only 9 common traits between salespeople and sales managers that are necessary to be effective.  They are:

  • Asks questions
  • No need for approval
  • Controls emotions
  • Knows why people buy
  • Knows how people buy
  • Effective at getting commitments
  • Effective when asking questions
  • Has goals and a plan
  • Good bonding and rapport

Now you might think that these 9 represent a pretty big number, but when you account for the fact that we actually review 41 different characteristics when evaluating the competencies of a sales manager, that is a small number.  Less than 25% to be exact.  There are 32 other traits that were not necessary for a salesperson to do an effective job selling but ARE necessary to do an effective job managing.  So again I ask, why is it that we promote salespeople to manager and then just expect them to do it right?  So I ask all those CEOs and business owners out there who are dissatisfied with your sales team to first look at the sales manager.  Provide him or her the tools necessary to do the job effectively.  And, all you sales managers, first show this article to your boss, and then request the tools to help you be as successful as possible so that you can drive sales results through your team.