Sales Leaders: Born or Made

I recently attended the Sales Management Associations (SMA) first annual conference where I had the privilege to speak with many thought leaders and practitioners in the area of sales leadership. A recurring topic of conversations throughout the many networking opportunities was whether great sales reps make great sales managers. When someone brings this subject up, many people let out a sigh. They think back to a situation where one of their successful sales peers was promoted to sales manager and bombed. Was this the fault of the recently promoted sales rep? I think not. The onus lies with the company to vet and prepare future managers for the position. In any other area of the company, it would be unthinkable to promote someone into a position of leadership without properly training them with the skills to be leading others. Sales managers, much like their corporate peers, need skills like business acumen and ethics. They must also be prepared to coach, conduct successful meetings, and do periodic performance reviews. All of this in addition to meeting the team quota. All too often, newly minted sales managers think back to what made them successful and simply try to impose these behaviors on others. This doesnt always work. And when all else fails, the manager simply jumps in and closes all the deals. (Note: Some successful sales reps do go on to successful sales management careers.) As a sales enablement professional, Im encouraged to see organizations such as SMA put forth excellent resources for the success of our sales management peers. Let me get your thought on the topic of sales leaders. Are they born or made?

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