Here’s the whole idea in a sentence:

Sales Management is a Leadership job, not a Sales job.

The reality is this – when the top performing sales professional is promoted to a Sales Manager the conversation goes like this:

“Hi John, congratulations you are now a Sales Manager. You are great at sales and the thing you love the most is being face to face and toe to toe with customers. This we are taking away (or making it a dotted line responsibility at most). The thing you hate the most – the admin and business reporting, we are going to give you more of. Oh, and here have some sales people to manage, but don’t worry you are great with people so that should be easy enough for you.”

Although in jest, this is not really far from the truth, even if not expressed exactly in these words. The unfortunate next chapter for the newly promoted Sales Manager is as traumatic as more and more impossible demands are made for his time. Leadership training or some form of generic Management Development Programme follow but little the organisation does can adequately prepare John for his new role.

Why few HR departments realise that the skills, traits and attributes that make a person successful at sales are simply not the same as what makes a Sales Manager successful I will never understand.

Skills to drive performance in sales people, to create the right culture or to have intelligent conversations to review key accounts or opportunities are not inherent in even the best sales person. But try being a successful Sales Manager without them and see how far you get.