Transitioning to a sales leadership position from an individual contributor role comes with challenges. Considering 71% of sales managers are promoted from rep roles, it bears the question: How are potential sales managers selected, trained and prepared?
Steven Rosen, MBA, author and founder and CEO of STAR Results says data from his company’s new Sales Manager Report shows that three keys - support, empathy and coaching - are critical to developing successful sales managers.
Here’s more insight from Steven into developing great sales managers:
Q: What are the consequences of not supporting reps as they enter sales management?
SR: Usually companies will promote their best sales rep to sales manager. It makes sense.
The problem is that you are losing your number one rep. We know that the odds are stacked against new sales managers as forty percent fail in their first 18 months.
The cost of failure is high. The sales manager will not go back into a sales rep role so you need to fire them. The impact that a bad sales manager can have on the team in terms of engagement, turnover and performance is high.
Companies are taking a big risk with a high probability of a lose-lose scenario when promoting a sales rep to sales manager.
The STAR Sales Manager Report highlights the risk as organizations are doing a poor job supporting the transition from sales rep to sales manager:
- Only 32% of organizations had training to support the transition from sales rep to sales manager
- Only 23% of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that their organization had a formal process to evaluate the transition from sales rep to manager
When I was promoted from rep to a sales manager, it wasn’t easy and I struggled in my first year with little support. Having to manage both my peers and my boss was a real challenge.
Q: Where do organizations start if they don’t formally support sales management transitions?
SR: In most cases the head of sales is too busy to effectively support their new manager. Pairing a new sales manager with a senior in a mentor-mentee relationship can have a positive result for both parties.
I am of the opinion that if you don’t have the resources you need, it may be more economical to outsource these resources. For small to medium size sales organizations they may only hire a few new managers every year.
The first 90 days are critical for the success or failure of a new sales manager. The chance of being able to enroll your new sales manager into a course when they are promoted is remote. What I have found works extremely well is having an executive sales coach who knows your organization and can provide the new sales manager with 1 to 1 coaching.
A good coach can provide the new sales manager with best in class support. A sales coach will help the manager avoid pitfalls and get them focused on what they need to do to be successful.
Steven Rosen (@StevenARosen) is hosting a free sales leadership training session - The Ultimate Sales Leadership Strategy for High Performance - on Sept 15th at 1:30 p.m. EDT. You can also download a copy of the STAR 2016 Sales Manager Report.
Want more sales training advice? Get your copy of B2B Sales Has Changed…Why Your Training Should Too.