We often hear that good sales people don’t make good sales managers. While incorrect, the transition is admittedly difficult. However, few give reasons. I have identified three major attributes that distinguish a good sales person who can be a good sales manager from one who can’t be: patience, adaptability and introspection.
Good sales people by habit are not patient; if one prospect says, “no,” they go onto another. We can’t rollover sales people as quickly as we can prospects. As for adaptability, good sales people usually find a workable style and stick with it; they rarely need to try others. Contrastingly, as managers, we have to deal with multiple selling styles. Lastly, many good sales people will run their processes without knowing why they work; often they don’t need to know. Sales managers need to understand the “why’s” so they can solve problems and duplicate successes.
As a result, good sales people who become sales managers tend to have developed little patience, adaptability or introspection. They will tend to push their people into a single style, usually the one that worked for them, and reprimand those who don’t implement quickly or successfully. In effect, they are sales administrators not coaches.
Experientially, this means that the good sales managers who were good sales people are likely to be those who had to struggle to be good. Perhaps they had to try a lot of different things until they found their style. This might have included a real close look at what they were doing and why some things worked and others didn’t. Finally, they learned to have patience with their own development.