Stop Hiring People Who Can Sell [How to Hire Your Next Sales Manager]

How many times have you heard this:

“Just because he or she is your best sales person doesn’t mean they should be promoted to sales management.”

In spite of the truth to this, I watch people do it all the time. A sales person is killing it. They are the top performer for years and when a sales management position opens up, BOOM! they get the job.

All I’m gonna say about this is, “Don’t do it.”

Managing and leading are very different from selling.  Make no mistakes about it. When you’re hiring a sales manager, you don’t need someone who can sell, you need someone who knows how to get others to sell and those are entirely different skills.

Managing and leading people requires entirely different skills and abilities than selling.

When hiring your next sales manager, don’t start with how well they sell but rather how well they lead.  Look for these skills;

  • how well do they assess talent
  • how well do they set vision
  • how willing are they to take unpopular stances
  • how well do they evaluate environments
  • are they able to motivate individuals
  • are they a good coach
  • can they coalesce teams/people
  • do they know what a good sales process looks like
  • do they have vision
  • can they think strategically
  • do they know what a buying process looks like
  • can they execute
  • are they a team player
  • do they know how to manage a sales cycle and buyers journey
  • can they give credit to others
  • do they KNOW how to sell
  • can they lead

Notice there is nothing here about being ABLE to sell.

John Wooden couldn’t play basketball, yet led 10 teams to National Championships, 7 in a row. I wouldn’t put Sergey and Larry on the sales front lines, but they built Google into a hell of a company. A mistake often made is to believe that the sales manager has to be able to sell. The belief is that sales leaders that can’t sell are no sales leader at all.  This belief will crush you and your sales team.

I’ve interviewed for countless leadership positions in my life and the least emphasized part of the process was my leadership, leadership approaches, and leadership skills. This is a mistake, because leadership is what is being hired for, not selling.

When we stop doing, we start leading and they are two entirely different things.

Are you hiring sellers or leaders to run your sales organizations?

If you’re hiring a sales leader/manager, you don’t need someone who is able to sell. You need someone who can lead — there is a difference.

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