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Risky Business: Why A Great Sales Rep Might Not Be A Great Sales Manager

When your industries need to fill a sales administration role such as the sales manager position, it’s attractive to look first to your current sales team members. 

After all, advertising your top sales rep would send a vast message to your sales industry, right ? Work hard and become a logical top producer and you – yes you, superstar sales rep – can mount the organization ladder to a greater box on the org chart! It might very well be the typical win – win situation – if it works out, that is. 

Miserably, success is not assured, and making the changeover from sales rep to sales manager carries big liability. More on those liability – to the sales rep, the sales company, the organization and to the bottom line – in a moment. 

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Significant executive coach, Administration expert and author Marshall Goldsmith has implied that “what got you here won’t get you there.” In other words, the experience it took to get you where you are won’t automatically be enough to take you to the next level. 

Absolutely, this is true for sales reps on the path to becoming a sales manager. Each step up the industrial ladder needs new sales administration skills, of course. 

But the move upward can also need the sales rep to unlearn some skills, too, or at least to innovate how they interact and communicate with others on the sales team. 

Risks For The Sales Rep

When is a promotion not really a promotion ? When it brings more stress, less pay and at least a short-term fissure in the sales team culture.

All of these are likely when the sales rep moves into an administration role.

The sales rep also risks abandoning the current level of respect and success gained using proven skills in replacement for potential using a new set of sales management skills still to be honed and learned. 

If the new skills – administration skills – do not come easily and naturally, the rep risks loss in the role and a defamed prominence within the sales culture and the organization’s sales marketplace. 

Risks For the Sales Organization

The progress of the sales team culture will surely be impacted when a sales rep is promoted to sales manager. 

Grudge might be the result. Sour grapes, even. 

Changing the progress from a direct peer-to-peer relationship to a superior-to-subordinate one will likely be a demanding journey with many crashes in the roads. 

Risk For The Company

Changing the industrial structure, even with all the positives of advertising from within, carries risks for the company, too. 

If one or more sales team members feel skillfully affronted when a co-worker gets promoted ahead of them, they could look for chances elsewhere.

This would leave the company – with another sales rep position to fill. Onboarding, recruiting and hiring new sales talent usually carries huge costs. 

Risks For The Bottom line

Promoting a top sales rep to sales manager can easily be a risky business. Those risks can be alleviated, of course, if everyone in the sales industry observes the challenges upfront and is committed to success. 

The new sales manager will need to apply and learn new sales management skills and follow the qualities of a sales manager. 

Sales team members will have to work to take the new administration progress. And the industry will need to support the new sales leader with training in how to be an active sales manager. 

But by observing the risks and functioning as a dedicated team to chase them, your great sales rep can become a great sales manager after all. 

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