Sales Management: Should You Promote or Recruit?

Organizational leaders face a classic dilemma when they find themselves in need of a new sales manager: Do they promote a rock-star rep or do they recruit someone from outside the company? If you find yourself faced with this choice, there are some important factors to consider before you take a leap of faith in either direction.

“Rock star sales representatives may not always make great sales managers.  Things to keep in mind if you are promoting from within; make sure they have amazing time management skills, strong attention to detail, excellent communication skills, natural leadership, a clear line between professionalism and friendship, and someone who is excited about training and motivating others to achieve goals.” Says Abby Prince, CSS ProSearch Managing Director.

Factors to Consider Before Promoting A Top Sales Rep

Promoting a top sales rep into management might seem like a logical step for both the organization and the sales pro, but turnover among sales managers promoted up the ranks is high. Nearly one in five promoted managers leave their jobs within two years. There are a number of reasons why these situations can fail including:

  • Managing requires different skills than selling: The crux of a sales role is to hunt for new business, develop relationships and close deals. Management requires a different skill set altogether: developing, training, coaching, tracking, forecasting, planning, etc. Not every solid salesperson makes a solid manager.
  • Management requires specific personality traits: Your best salespeople may be A-type personalities, but if they are aggressive and authoritarian, they might not make ideal managers.
  • Killer reps like the hunt: Top salespeople are often motivated by the “thrill of the kill,” and they are likely to miss being in the field and getting that daily rush that comes with closing deals.
  • Top reps aren’t used to failure: Highly successful salespeople are used to winning. Managers, however, must face the reality of low performers. This can be demoralizing to someone used to consistently coming out on top.
  • The cost of failure is high: Choosing the wrong manager comes at a great cost. Not only have you lost a top rep, but you must spend the resources to find a new manager. In the process, it’s likely that customer relationships have suffered and group morale has taken a hit.

When you choose to promote from within, you must consider whether your candidate truly possesses the skills necessary to lead the team successfully, so you do not end up losing a top rep and damaging your bottom line.

Conducting A Successful Sales Management Search

While thorough vetting, extensive training and ongoing support can increase the chances of a promotion working out, it is often more efficient and beneficial to conduct an outside search for sales managers. However, conducting an outside search can be a challenge, as well. It is a tall order to find someone with the right mix of skills and experience, who will mesh well with the sales team, and who is actually willing and available to tackle new challenges.

Internal hiring teams that are stretched thin can struggle to find strong candidates, but each day the sales team operates without a leader means lost revenue for the company. A professional recruiting partner with a proven track record of recruiting sales managers can be a critical asset to your sales manager search.

Contemporary Staffing Solutions is a market leader in sales management recruiting. We work with our clients to find them the talent they need to motivate their sales team to success. If you want to learn more about the ways in which CSS can help you achieve your goals, contact us to start the conversation today.