Selling While Managing Others is Tough Sledding

By: Steve Schaffer, March 14, 2017

A client recently asked me if having his Sales Manager also selling was the best idea or not. My response was, “The best idea? I’m not so sure. Is it doable? Yes.”

While I have seen people succeed in such a dual role, it is not easy to find someone with the proper DNA to be successful both in sales and in managing a team of salespeople.

This seems to be an increasingly sought-after skill set, however. Purdue University states that Selling and Sales Management has been added to the list of Top University Sales Programs by the Sales Education Foundation (SEF) for preparing and producing top talent in professional selling roles.

However, these types of programs may or may not prepare students to do both jobs equally well.

When determining whether or not someone has the ability to both sell and manage a team, please ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the candidate ambitious? Does he or she have that fire-in-the-belly motivation? Quality salespeople are naturally driven. Not only will their ambition allow them to succeed from a sales perspective, it will set the cadence for everyone on their team.
  1. Can the candidate be part of the team and at the same time hold that team accountable? This can be a very difficult balancing act for the person in a Sales/Sales Management role. If a candidate is extremely relationship driven, he or she will struggle with separating the personal relationships within the sales team and being able to drive the team for results.
  1. Is the candidate an effective leader? This question is all about a person’s ability to influence others. The sales team needs to see the leader as the “captain” of the team. Not only will this help drive results and accountability, but it will also set the tempo for the sales culture.
  1. How does the candidate handle time management? This might be one of the most underrated attributes to consider, especially in a dual role such as this. How a person manages his or her own sales is one thing, but balancing that job with the time needed to supervise and coach a team is equally important. This role will require structure, discipline and an acute ability to prioritize tasks.
  1. Can the candidate control the sales process and bring it to a close? With all the different tasks on this individual’s plate at any given time, being able to close deals in a timely fashion is critical. He or she will not have the luxury of extending sales cycles, so having an adequate amount of influence and assertiveness is key.
  1. Can the candidate problem solve at a high level? This trait is not only important when dealing with prospects, it is also critical when dealing with any internal issues that may arise. The ability to tackle a problem proactively will save time, uphold morale and increase efficiency.

There’s no question that having someone manage your sales team and sell for you at the same time can be “tough sledding.” But if you look for the traits listed above and choose the right person for the job, you will greatly increase the chances that your sales team, your sales leader, and your company as a whole will be successful.