If you have been in sales long enough you are sure to have heard Einstein’s famous quote from at least one of your sales leaders, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." This is a legit quote that has a logical and tested premise, but my problem with the quote is that in the sales industry it is most always directed at the sales producer and not the sales manager. This is not necessarily the sales manager’s fault however because it is a sales hiring best practice that is actually insane in this case. What is that best practice? The sales world continues to promote top performing sales reps into management roles blindly without recognizing that selling to customers vs coaching and teaching sales producers to be great are two different skill sets. And worse yet, even if they recognize that selling and coaching are two different skill sets, they still promote top performing reps into management because the internal leadership is not strong enough to explain to the rep why they will ultimately be miserable in a management role. This critical promotion error gets made over and over, day after day in the sales world even though there is an abundance of science out there that supports how “insane” this hiring practice is.
So where should sales departments begin in order to break this viscous cycle of insane behavior? Take a look below.
Top-performing salespeople are often considered the best candidates for moving into a sales leadership role. However, the talents needed for sales success are different than those needed for management success. Therefore, before considering promoting a sales rep into a management role, it is important to assess whether they have demonstrated the potential to be an effective manager. This sales management potential screener provides questions for a manager to consider when evaluating the promotional potential of a sales rep to a sales management role.
The observational screener below is to be completed by a salesperson’s direct sales manager whenever possible. These are not questions to be asked of the salesperson, but rather for the sales manager to evaluate on their own to determine whether the salesperson has demonstrated the necessary behaviors. It is important that the sales manager is candid in completing this screener, as they do not want to promote one of their best salespeople into a role where they are unlikely to be success. If the sales manager feels the salesperson has demonstrated good potential for sales management after the completion of this screener, the salesperson should move forward to the next step in the process.
NOTE: There is no specific number of questions that have to marked “yes” for the salesperson to be considered a good candidate, but if the majority of the questions are marked “no,” it’s unlikely they are demonstrating strong sales management potential at the present time.
Talent Identification and Acquisition
- Has the salesperson recruited a talented person into the sales organization?
- Does the salesperson often provide referrals for sales candidates?
Sales Methodology and Skill Development
- Do the salesperson’s peers often seek them out for advice or guidance on working with their customers or prospects?
- Does the salesperson enjoy teaching sales skills to peers?
- Has the salesperson mentored other salespeople who are new to the role? Were they effective at it?
- Has the salesperson expressed interest in a management role because they like coaching and developing other people?
- Is the salesperson effective at analyzing sales results and identifying opportunities for improvement?
- Can the salesperson effectively explain the sales reports to other people?
Compensation, Recognition and Rewards
- Does the salesperson often recognize and complement peers?
- Has the salesperson ever made positive recommendations on how the team’s sales compensation plan could be improved?
- Does the salesperson create comprehensive and well-designed territory plans?
This screener is not the be all end all in terms of making sure your next management hire is a home run, but it a great place to start.
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