Promoting a top performing salesperson to the role of sales manager would seem to be a perfect solution to filling a key vacancy. They already know the organization and team, they understand your clients and product, and they’ve proved successful in their current role. For the salesperson in question, the promotion may be an attractive opportunity to attain a new skillset, develop professionally and elevate their earning potential.
Upon first examination, promoting from within instead of hiring externally makes a certain amount of sense. Companies may also be unwilling to let go of the motivational incentive of the possibility of internal promotion to management. Unfortunately, as much as company leaders may like to promote from within, the transition from salesperson to manager often fails to work out.
Why is this so often the case? Consider the following:
Every role in your organization calls for specific core competencies, soft skills and personality type. Talent in one role does not necessarily carry over into another.
Many companies with first-hand knowledge of this fact, left with the task of having to figure out how to hire the right person for a management position, have turned to sales recruitment agencies for help. An effective recruitment agency will have experience not only in successfully recruiting for junior sales positions, but in finding candidates for top-level positions in management and executive roles. They are aware of the unique qualities required from an ideal candidate for a management position, and have a sophisticated methodology for assessing a candidate’s soft skills, experience and relevancy for the job. They will also have experience recruiting for a breadth of different industries, and a thorough understanding of the unique challenges inherent to each industry. No less important, since vacancies in key management positions are often costly, an experienced recruiter will be able to find talented candidates in a matter of days, not weeks.
Good sales recruiters are aware of the differences in qualifications and soft skills required from a successful candidate in a sales management position. Many of these, as it turns out, are antithetical to the qualities of a successful salesperson. A good salesperson should be independent and self-driven, while a good manager is a skilled collaborator and seeks to motivate others. A good salesperson is driven by the prospect of personal achievement, while a good manager is motivated by the success of others.
A recent study showed that only one in every six strong candidates for a sales position is appropriate for a sales management role. Surprisingly enough, the study also suggests that five out of seven strong candidates for a career in sales management would be a poor match for a sales position. A separate study that tracked the records of salespeople and managers of 214 companies found similar results, showing that team productivity suffered after a top salesperson was promoted to a sales management position.
Effective sales recruiters understand the unique skills required for success in each role within a sales organization. If your company does not have a team member with the essential leadership skills required of a good manager, perhaps it is best to avoid promoting a salesperson to a management position. An experienced sales recruiter can help find an ideal candidate for a management role in your organization, letting your company gain a good manager without potentially losing its top salesperson.