40% of sales managers quit within the first 18 months, according to Steve Rosen, author of ‘Star Results’.
That’s a jaw-dropping statistic on many levels.
But, is it really that surprising? Or are sales managers being set up to fail from the outset? Too often, new managers receive inadequate training and support. Many are promoted for the wrong reason to start with as well.
The best salespeople do not always make the ideal sales manager candidate. They can sell, but are they selfless enough to coach, motivate and lead? Sales or managing directors often decide to promote their best salesperson because they fear the successful, hungry, ambitious individual will leave as there are limited growth opportunities available. Giving someone the title of sales manager without the appropriate training and development is setting them up to fail.
The new sales managers recruited for valid business reasons are about to embark on an incredible journey through which they will grow and develop exponentially – as long as they receive the appropriate training, coaching and continuous support.
The key to differentiating sales manager candidates lies in understanding their motivation, mindset and methodology.
Motivation – what they aspire to and how they see the sales manager role within the context of what they want to achieve longer term. If the candidate is interested solely in monetary gain or status, they are unlikely to proactively put the needs of their team first and instead will be more inclined to make short-term decisions that provide quick wins.
Mindset – what makes them tick and their way of thinking in response to everyday challenges and frustrations. If the candidate is inflexible, rigid in their thought processes and closed to other perspectives, they are likely to dismiss viewpoints that differ from their own. They are also, possibly, more inclined to display a more authoritative manager figure.
Methodology – how they will apply the theories and principles that form their own sales management approach. If the candidate does not have the appropriate motivation or mindset, their execution of the sales plan is likely to be haphazard and disjointed. They will be focused entirely on the end goal without understanding the impact of their actions on their team, the business or, critically, on their reputation.
For sales managers to have a better chance of success, it is essential to emphasise the professional development of those soft skills that will enable them to interact effectively with individuals at all levels of the organisation.
The carrot and stick approach needs to evolve to consider new challenges and ways of working that have emerged. The success for every sales manager comes from understanding not only themselves but the individuals they work with as well. The needs of these individuals are constantly evolving; hence they need to be engaged, with empathy, in a more thoughtful way that motivates them to realise their potential.
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