We’ve all been there. You’ve got a superstar sales executive that is ready to continue
growing in their career. They’ve topped out on the number of accounts they can effectively handle but they’re maximizing the majority of them. Excellent work, excellent effort, every month…and they want more. More responsibility, more money, more of a challenge.
If you have a sales executive in this situation, how can you help them to grow and ensure their success at the next level?
The default answer for many is to move this superstar into a sales manager slot. This can work. Your top sales person can successfully transition to management and instill their principles, work ethic and attitude in the rest of the sales force. Successfully done, you’ve deepened the expertise of your management team and minimized potential revenue loss and impact on the account base. You may have even found your successor which puts you in a better place in your own career.
But I’ve also seen it fail miserably. A neighbor of mine sells Toyota cars and trucks. For as long as I can remember, he was the number one sales guy for his dealership. Sales came to him naturally, he wrote his own paycheck and his return business was ridiculous. The logical decision by ownership was to take advantage of his knowledge and sales prowess in the hope he could create a sales force full of people just like him. So they moved him out of the sales force and into a sales manager position. He was on board with it in the beginning as it offered better compensation and hours. However, he learned quickly that being in management brought its own set of challenges and to make a long story much shorter, he was back on the sales floor in no time at all. Selling was where his heart was and where he excelled.
So moving sales people into a management role can work, just not for everyone. Determining that can be tricky. One way to get a glimpse into the possibilities is to test it.
So here are two ways you might consider using to test this strategy:
- Making them an insider can be a way to gauge their interest in what being a manager is all about. For example, teaching them how the revenue budget was built or how the commission structure was developed can give them insight into what management life is all about. As an insider, they can also prove to be vitally important in helping develop sales products and in gauging the sales staff’s opinion of certain initiatives. Their input into product development and the subsequent buy-in that comes with it can lead the rest of the staff in the right direction.
- Asking them to lead a sales project can also give both of you the insight needed to see if leadership/management is the right direction for them to go in. Asking your top sales exec to lead the sales effort for a special section, niche product or digital initiative can be just the thing to expose both strengths and challenges in project leadership. This one step will expand their view of sales leadership and let them know if this is where their passion lies.
There are many more ways to see if this can work for you and your organization, but guiding your sales leaders on the right career path is critical. Their success should always be our goal.
Do you have other suggestions? Please share them in the comments.