A Sales Management Truth: Why Top Sales Hunters Don't Make Good Sales Managers

sales management truth

Time and time again, I see companies promote their top sales hunter to lead their sales team, which typically leads to disastrous results: a loss in sales by both the former top producer (who is no longer producing) and by their sales team, because their new sales leader is not acting as a motivating leader at all. So why are these formerly excellent salespeople failing to succeed in the leadership role?

To gain more perspective on this, I interviewed a couple of leading experts in sales training and development. The first person, Andy Miller of Big Swift Kick, shared with me an analogy about Michael Jordan: you don't take your top player and leading scorer out of the game at his peak in order to manage the team. While Jordan was clearly one of the best basketball players in the world, he didn't succeed at being a team president. His skill and decision-making abilities as a player didn't translate well to the front office. Andy said that while top hunter sales reps love to hunt, a great sales manager’s skill set is that of the hunting camp administrator. Therefore, the true sales hunter will get bored doing the camp administrator role and will do whatever they can to get back in the game, which typically leads to them taking the good leads for themselves and leaving their sales team feeling slighted. 

The other sales guru I spoke with is Scott Messer of Sales Evolution. Scott shared the following:

1. The number one job of a sales manager is make sure everyone on the team hits their sales budgets.

2. Sales Managers who try to do all the closing themselves instead of helping their sales rep on the account are doing that rep and their company a disservice.

3. There is a big difference between sales management and sales leadership. The former is about form, function, and measurement; the latter is about creating the atmosphere where reps can be self-motivated and want to win out of desire, not in spite of their manager.

From a behavioral science perspective, the attributes that make someone a top sales hunter are exactly the same attributes that would make them a terrible sales manager.

Top sales hunters are independent, self motivated self-starters. This means that they are not good at being a team player and tend to have the attitude of "no one had to get me up in the morning and motivate me, so anyone good should be able to do this on their own as well.” But in reality, this is not the case with all salespeople. In fact, most people need a sales leader to help motivate them, which is why we have sales managers.

Top sales hunters are impatient and results-oriented and therefore, as a sales manager, they dont have patience for their salespeoples’ learning curves.

Top sales hunters tend to be introverts. Yes, I know that shocks most of you, but here's why this is true. Introverts are inwardly focused - on their goals and objectives (closing the sale) - while extroverts are outwardly focused on others; they need to be liked, which causes them to delay the close until they feel they have built the relationship to a point where they can ask without upsetting the balance of the relationship. On the other hand, introverts don't care about the relationship beyond what it takes to close the sale.

Extroverts' communication style tends to be verbose, so they tend to talk more than listen. Introverts' communication style is more direct and to the point, so they talk less and listen more.  

Put someone with those introverted traits into a sales manager position and you have someone who focuses more on themselves than on their people. They don't take time to build relationships and nurture their people. They’re too direct and can come across as being someone who is selfish and even rude to their salespeople.

Top sales hunters have an in-depth knowledge of their products, services, company, industry, sales process, etc., which is great for being a great sales hunter, but this knowledge alone does not make them a great sales manager.

The following is a list of the top 4 things that sales managers need to be great at:

1. Hiring and selecting top salespeople

2. Training & development

3. Managing & holding people accountable

4.  Leading & Motivating

So to determine if your existing or pending sales manager has what it takes to be a great sales manager, measure them against the above 4 skills vs. how well they know your products and services and how to sell them.To help you with that, I suggest you utilize a tool called the OMG Sales Skills and Assessment tool. You can learn more about that here.

Your turn:

What do you feel it takes to be a great sales manager? 

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