An interesting article, Secrets to Developing Successful Sales Managers, by Xactly's CEO, Christopher Cabrera, was posted on Selling Power's 2/19/13 blog. I suggest that you read it first, returning to this article for the analysis.
I thought that the first half of the article was spot on.
I thought that the second half was as bad as the first half was good.
Here's why: He said to hire for characteristics and train for competencies. That's okay, as long as we identify the correct characteristics and competencies, which he didn't. And when we train for competencies, that should be fine-tuning, not wholesale development. It's one thing if the sales manager doesn't have salespeople reporting to him/her yet, but if we expect the sales manager to inherit a group of veteran salespeople, that's not the ideal scenario for on-the-job training!
So, what are the correct competencies? This article lists the top 10 sales management competencies.
Today, 50% of a sales manager's job (especially the front line manager to whom Chris refers) is coaching!!! That doesn't appear on his list and it's the competency on which sales managers consistently score the lowest. According to Objective Management Group's endless source of data, sales managers possess, on average, only 45% of the attributes of an effective sales coach. And this will come as a surprise: In which attributes are they most deficient? Selling skills! After all, how can we expect sales managers to coach salespeople to be any more effective than they are?
That brings us to the next problem. Was that new sales manager really that effective as a salesperson or was this individual simply managing greater revenue than anyone else? Were they existing accounts which were being managed or were new accounts being brought in?
Companies routinely mislabel salespeople as being top producers when the reality is that they're usually great account managers who've inherited the best accounts or territory. It's often the less visible salespeople who are the best producers, bringing in new business, one deal at a time, but growing their revenue just the same.