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5 Reasons Why Great Salespeople Don’t Aways Make Great Sales Managers

Hiring Sales Managers: Should You Recruit Internally or Externally?

Interviewing Possible Sales Managers

Filling job positions through internal hiring and promotion is a very wide-spread practice in today’s business world. For most companies, it’s a logical decision to hire from within, as it allows them to reduce training costs, reward loyal employees for their dedication, and give low-level employees the hope that one day they’ll reach the top of the company if they only stick with it and work hard enough.

It generally makes sense to take someone who excels at their job and put them in charge of the rest of the team. In theory, that employee should be able to make wise decisions and impart their experience, expertise, and knowledge upon others. After all, who else would know more about running a sales team than the company’s top salesperson, right?

Sure, a sales manager needs to know how to sell and must understand how to do the job of his subordinates, but that isn’t the only prerequisite. Being an effective sales manager requires a completely new set of skills that a salesperson simply won’t learn on the job. Not to mention, the personality of a great salesperson is quite different than that of a great sales manager.

Rather than acting as a lone wolf that’s hunting for leads, a salesperson-turned-manager needs to know how to lead the pack, teach them to hunt, motivate them, and provide them with the proper incentives to continue. Without the ability to do these things, a salesperson is doomed to fail in their new position.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons why great salespeople fail to become great managers:

5 Reasons Why Great Salespeople Don’t Always Make Great Sales Managers

#1: They Don’t Know How to Motivate

The sad truth about sales “teams” is that they rarely work together as a team. Most sales reps are motivated by their own financial goals and would rather focus on maximizing their commission than help the struggling associate in the cubicle next to them. Even after becoming a manager and making the effort to motivate others, salespeople can still lack the ability to do so due to a sheer lack of experience.

The worst case scenario is when a sales manager who got into sales purely for the money now lacks the drive and purpose that they once felt as a representative. Without constant excitement and tangible rewards for reaching their goals, a more stable position in management can seem dull and uninspiring. These stars end up burning out rather quickly and quit when they feel unfulfilled by their new position.

#2 They Don’t Know How to Teach or Mentor

Not everyone has the gift of teaching. Despite a wealth of knowledge and experience in sales, a top salesperson may not know how to train new employees or struggling reps and show them how to improve. Sitting down with someone and mentoring them also takes a great deal of time, patience, and determination.

A top salesperson-turned-manager can even become frustrated or condescending towards members of the sales team who don’t meet their goals or don’t perform as they would like them to. Since they lack the patience to properly train their sales reps, they may feel forced to take direct control over everything and do things themselves. This, of course, leads to the inability to delegate tasks and trust in others.

#3  They Don’t Have the Communication or Interpersonal Skills

It’s easy to assume that someone who speaks on the phone, sends emails, and meets with clients all day long would have great communication and interpersonal skills. On the contrary, salespeople spend the majority of their time speaking and presenting their ideas, and less time listening to what others have to say. This isn’t a judgment on salespeople, of course, but a description of what a sales job entails.

Often referred to as “the curse of knowledge” in academia, those who are an expert in a given topic tend to overestimate how well their audience understands what they’re communicating. A sales manager with a background as a sales rep may have forgotten what it was like to be a beginner and may jump to advanced topics without properly addressing the basics. They may also consider it sufficient to give a quick pep-talk to a struggling sales team when they really should elaborate more on how to overcome the problem, instead.

#4  They Aren’t Very Organized

Organizational skills are key to a sales manager’s success. The ability to plan for the future, staying on schedule, and maintaining both l0ng-term and short-term strategies simultaneously are just a few of the ways that being organized can benefit a sales manager.

Sales reps, on the other hand, live in a 30-day sales cycle and thrive on making last-second deals. Unfortunately, making sales projections and investing in future growth simply doesn’t match the adrenaline rush that comes from closing a huge deal at the very last moment. As you might expect, someone that’s used to chasing a high from day to day will not have the discipline to make long-term decisions.

#5  They Don’t Know How to Implement and Execute Processes

Standardizing the job and implementing processes are essential to ensure that the sales team, as a whole, performs well. In fact, it’s more beneficial for the entire team to do a good job than it is to have a mixed bag that contains a few star salespeople and a bunch of struggling reps.

By implementing and executing processes, managers clarify what they expect of their employees and create a standardized system that makes it even easier to onboard new reps. Documentation, scripts, training materials, and even videos provide tons of value to your team. It also ensures that everyone is on the same page and that they have the skills they need to complete the job.


At this point, it should be rather clear that great salespeople don’t always make the best sales managers. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible, but that making the transition from salesperson to manager requires one to learn a completely new set of skills. Whether you’re searching to fill the sales manager position at your company or you’re a salesperson who’s been recently promoted, we hope this article gave you a clearer idea of what it takes to do the job.

For more great articles on sales, digital marketing, and other related topics, please visit our blog. If you’d also like to learn more about Sales Buddy and how we generate hot leads for your sales team to close, schedule a quick chat with Corey. He’ll show you how we combine content creation, marketing technology, and distribution into a lead generation trifecta for your business.

About the Author Michael Edgar

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