What Kind of Sales Manager Are you?

It is unfortunate that companies tend to promote high performing individual contributors into management roles without a structured and formal development plan to ensure their success. Stated simply, in 2016 the prevailing approach is to rely on an individual’s ability to ‘figure it out’ on their own.

Also sad but true is the lack of quality training available for sales managers. One notable exception is Mike Weinberg’s excellent primer: Sales Management Simplified. I strongly recommend current and prospective sales managers own a copy.

I have also released a five part video series titled ‘How to Manage Sales People.’ You can find the 1st Video (and link to the others) HERE.

In addition to the skills one must learn to manage salespeople, I believe managers and the companies they work for can benefit from thinking about sales management within the framework I have used for years to help managers understand where they spend their time as well as where they could benefit from additional training.

I define four layers of sales management representing the four ‘hats’ a sales manager wears throughout their days and weeks and months.

  • Layer 1: A Sales Administrator (aka babysitter) ensures their people are doing the things they are supposed to
  • Layer 2: A Sales Manager ensures their people are accomplishing the results they are supposed to
  • Layer 3: A Sales Coach inspires their people to do their best work in service to our customers
  • Layer 4: A Sales Leader inspires their people to do and create results beyond what the individual previously believed was even possible.

It is important to note that each of these layers represents an aspect of the sales manager role. None of the layers are more or less important and the intention is not for managers to aspire to higher layer functions while leaving the lower layers behind. Instead, all the layers contribute to the overall success of your team.

To get a better sense of where you are in your journey as a sales manager, I recommend you perform a brief self-assessment. Read through the list above and ask yourself two questions for each of the layers described.

1) For each Layer, what is your overall competency? Use a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 = Little to No Competency (I am a novice), 5 = Moderate Competency (I understand the basics), and 10 = Complete Mastery (I teach others how to do this.)

2) For each layer, estimate the time spent in this layer as a percentage of what you spend in your management role. For example, 10 hours spent in Layer 1 management would be 25% if you were a full time manager and work an average of 40 hours each week. That same 10 hours would be 50% if you were a player/coach who spent 50% of their overall time at work in an individual contributor role. The sum of all four layers should add up to 100%

There are no right or wrong answers.

The goal is to use areas where you perceive a lack of competency to create your personal development plan designed to improve your knowledge and skills in that area. Similarly, you can use Time Blocking techniques to ensure more time is spent in those areas not receiving enough attention.

For those that want a head start, I have uploaded my customizable Ideal Sales Manager Calendar HERE.

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