Sales Answer Man: How to Go from an Excellent Sales Producer to a Sales Manager

Q: I have been a sales producer for the past year and will likely have some additional responsibilities in sales management in the next few months. What competencies will I need for that role versus my current one? 

A: You are wise to give this thought before the change occurs, rather than after. 

It’s unusual to find someone who is an excellent sales producer and equally competent as a sales manager. They exist, but they are few and far between. Typically, they excel at one and “can” do the other one.

Most excellent sales producers who choose the sales management role either want a promotion, more money, or both. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for neither of these positives to result. Not to mention, a mismatch can have quite a negative impact on the company and its sales professionals.

Most organizations who promote competent producers to sales management roles make the faulty assumption that, because they can sell, they can teach.

The main difference between the two is this: The sales producer is more like an individual golfer. The sales manager is more like a basketball team coach. Here are some of the competencies needed to be a sales manager that are not measured as a sales producer.

  • Accountability: Follows up and holds employees accountable for completion of assigned work.
  • Coaching Effectiveness: Instructs others so they learn and develop skills needed to achieve objectives.
  • Delegating: Develops plans to assign workload to subordinates proactively rather than reactively.
  • Hiring: Follows standardized process for talent searches in alignment with company needs.
  • Interviewing: Organizes structured interview process to qualify candidates’ fit with the role.
  • Recruiting: Continuously seeks top talent to add to the sales team.
  • Strategic Thinking: Develops broad, long-ranged objectives and plans that meet contingencies.
  • Stress Tolerance: Reacts to duress in a balanced manner to sustain performance levels.
  • Supervising: Consistently monitors and follows up to ensure employees deliver on obligations.

Let’s pretend you are an excellent producer considering a sales management role. From the list above, what competencies would be strengths, satisfactory or in need of development for you personally? While you may be self-aware, according to the above assessment we administer, most people are not. This can lead to more pain and suffering than necessary.

Many of us have blind spots holding us back. Since we are unaware of them, we can’t reduce, eliminate or manage the impact they have on our performance. Blind spots also can be propelling us forward. Since we are not aware of why or how we do certain things, we are unable to leverage those skills when working on our own. We are also limited in our ability to transfer these skills to the folks reporting to us.

Another consideration is being good at something, but not necessarily enjoying the task. A personal example of this is that I have co-written three books in the past 10 years. I am good at it, even quick at it, but I don’t yearn to write. It feels like a “labor of love” to me. 

You want to think about whether most of your daily tasks give you energy or drain you of energy. We tend to procrastinate the tasks that drain us of energy. The tasks that give us energy tend to not feel like work. Time flies by when we get to do them. 

The longer I work in the professional world, the more I realize no position is perfect. There will always be tasks and parts of any position we don’t enjoy. Having said that, some roles will be more enjoyable than others to fit our unique skills and experiences.

Dan Stalp is president of Sandler Training, a sales and professional development firm. He works with CEOs, presidents, business owners who sell, and peak performers who are tired of walking by their salespeople’s offices to see them on their computers instead of on their phones — and sick of having a superior product and losing out on price. • (913) 451-1760 •


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