Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Great Salesman-Poor Sales Manager - July 1, 2017

In a follow-up to last week’s post, I was “called out” by a colleague suggesting I was speaking to him through my writing. Well, not exactly, but there were several correlations that could not be ignored. However, what my colleague missed in the post but something we discussed at length over the past few days is this, there can be great sales people that are not cut out to be a coach.


Going back to my analogy of professional sports, many coaches played the game, but not all. And, given the vast number of athletes playing in the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, et al, few ever go on to be a coach at any level. In sales, as I’ve stated in past posts, not everyone is cut out to become a sales manager.


Managing sales people requires a variety of characteristics ranging from empathy (because you’ve been there done that) to support to disciplined reinforcement. A successful sales manager does not manage from a spreadsheet alone, as in stats and numbers only, but with emotion. Keep in mind that sales is emotional and almost all sales require skill in working with human relationships.


I’ve been in sales for a long time and have interacted with many a great salesman, but also many a poor sales manager. I sometimes wondered why such a charismatic, successful sales person could turn out to be such a lousy sales manager? The answer was not that far from the question. It didn’t take long to determine why.


Sales is a big game hunt. You prepare, you stalk, you hunt, you kill, you take your trophy. The excited feeling of accomplishment is an euphoric high that quickly moves on and then the sales person plans for the next hunt in order to repeat the success and the feeling. Sales management on the other hand oftentimes does not come with the same sense of accomplishment simply because you are attempting to be the hunting guide and not the hunter.


A hunting guide chooses to be so because they know how to hunt and how to accomplish their goals. They’ve done it enough that they want others to gain the same level (or close to) of their success. The sales manager needs to change their own demeaner when dealing with sales people in that they want the sales people to taste success, learn how to be successful, and to make success a routine. They must be a guide, a coach, and not every great sales person ultimately wants to take on the added responsibilities.


While some sales managers say yes to the sales management role, they do it with a smile on their face, but reluctance just the same. They know how to sell. They are excellent at the big game hunt. But, they fall short when it comes to being the guide or the coach. When you ask or are asked to consider sales management, make sure you understand what is at stake for you and the team, what implications come along with becoming the coach, what expectations your team will have of you, and finally if you feel you can be equally successful as the coach as you were the player.

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