Promoting Sales People to Managers
More often than not when you are promoting sales people into management prematurely you will find the impact to the sales team and the new manger may be irreversible.
Without the best possible experience and administration skills the new sales manager may feel overpowered with the new day to day tasks of the job, and may not give the sales group the every day direction required for success. It can be very difficult to go back to their original job, and thus, you risk losing a top performer. If you promote from within make sure have a detailed process to ensure an effective transition into management.
How often have you heard of a top sales person being promoted into a management role and then fail miserably within the first 12 months? Training your sales team can be very costly if you don’t hire the right people.
The question always becomes – WHY? Why did management promote the specific sales person or why did the sales person allow themselves to move away from a successful career into a management role where they had a good chance of failing? Let me share a few reasons “why” this happens and a different approach to promoting sales people within your company.
- To be a successful Sales Manager requires a very different set of skills and attributes when managing sales people compared to being a producer on the team. Success selling a product or service does not equal success in a management role. In many cases promotion into a management role could spell disaster for everyone involved.
- Sales people think they can do anything. A high performing sales person typically has a very positive view of their capabilities in all aspects of life. “I am successful in sales so Sales Management should be a natural fit!” This is not always true.
- The management team promoting sales people typically only have a few tools available to them to make a decision to promote or not to promote someone who has indicated they are interested in a management role. These hiring tools range from a typical interview (not a good tool to use since the sales person will be very good at selling the selection team and themselves into the role) to some form of Psychometric online tool. The selection team needs to pull away from these tools (or put lighter weights on the results) and start incorporating different hiring techniques to get past the sales person’s ability to win the interview or do well on an online test.
- Management does not want to say “no” to a top producer. The hiring team can become concerned with saying “no” and then run the risk of losing the sales person to a competitor. Management needs a process to allow both parties (hiring team and candidate) to make a logical decision if a promotion is the right thing to do or not.
What if the hiring team and candidate could put aside the interview and online tests and literally engage with each other as if the candidate was in the new role today? What would happen if the candidate was able to be put into a real life situation(s) to experience the thinking process along with other activities involved in the manager role they are applying for?
The candidate and/or hiring team would:
- Immediately start to recognize if the skills and attributes required for the role were sufficiently developed.
- Understand if the candidate indeed has what it takes to be a natural fit for the role or if they should rethink their desire to be in management.
- Move away from having the candidate win the interview and successfully sell themselves into the role and allow both parties to logically think through next steps for a promotion or not.
- Be able to talk openly regarding the key activities of the role (which they have engaged in together) along with the results of the simulation assessments. Having an open dialogue on both positive and negative outcomes will prove to reduce the risk of the candidate contemplating leaving the company for a management role if they were not promoted.
Promoting sales people to managers can be a tough decision, and one that should not be taken lightly. Job simulation tools can help reduce the risk associated with a costly hiring mistake.
Internal recruiting and promoting sales people within companies can be a tricky thing. To combat the urge when promoting sales people we highly recommend you engage with them in real life business activities and see what happens using a job simulation, in-tray exercise and other hiring tools that can drastically help your company make a better sales hire.