After years of being the top sales producer in the region, Dave had the chance to become the regional manager. He possessed the requisite skills that helped him to become the best seller: a competitive spirit, the self-motivation of an entrepreneur, drive and determination. He was a perfect fit to lead the sales team and inspire others to be the model sales professional he had been, right? Wrong. Dave failed miserably in the role and was eventually returned to the sales force with a case of badly shaken confidence.
What happened to Dave is not that uncommon. As sales manager roles become available, many companies automatically look to the top sales producer as "the next man up" for a leadership role. While that may seem logical on the surface, the skills required of a top manager are quite unique and different from the skills required of a top seller.
You needn't look any further than the world of sports to see how this plays out. Wayne Gretzky was the best hockey player of all time, yet he failed miserably as the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. Mike Singletary was a Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears, but a complete bust as a head coach with the San Francisco 49ers. The list goes on. On the flip side, can you recall a glorious playing career behind multiple Super Bowl winning head coach Vince Lombardi or multiple Stanley Cup champion head coach Scotty Bowman? Most great head coaches in professional sports didn't even play professionally, or if they did, it was in a brief stint as a role player.
The skills that make great managers aren't always found in top performers in either business or sports; at the heart of the reason is one of the most fundamental drivers of management success - the ability to bring out the best performance/results from others, versus driving yourself to deliver your best. Top performers can manage themselves for top performance, but they often find it hard to relate to the fact that other team members can't simply "be like them" and achieve similar success. They tend to manage everyone as if they are motivated in the exact same ways that they themselves are motivated. Capturing the essence of correct management in his book The7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey wrote: "Treat them all the same by treating them differently." This is also why one training solution will not work for both sales training and sales leadership training. Distinct skills sets need to be developed for each respective role.
One means to ensure that critical leadership skills are present in potential sales management candidates is to employ the Carew Talent Assessment powered by H.R. Chally. A predictive talent assessment will help you clearly identify who the top candidates for sales management are within your sales organization. When you analyze the assessments, don't be surprised if your next super star sales leader isn't one of your top sellers!