Can You Be A Sales Manager?

Back in the early ’90’s a friend lost his job as plant manager when the parent company moved the operation to China. Rather than move, he applied to the town for the job of “Arena Manager.”

“You have no experience with arenas.” was the principal objection.

His reply, “Do you want to hire someone who knows about arenas, or do you want to hire someone who is a manager?”

His view was that a manager did not need to know how to fix a compressor, all he needed to know was that it is broken and that there is an 800 number for the company that fixes them. His real contribution would be to be a leader, to delegate projects and tasks, to anticipate problems, to husband resources and to understand the reality of what arenas contribute to a community.

Management is a subtle skill. Its principle component is the ability to achieve results through properly using others.

That requirement automatically deletes skilled salespeople from consideration. Almost all of them are successful because they can manage themselves and require control over the process. They get impatient when the others do it differently. In a counter-intuitive way, it is more likely that the weak salespeople will make the better managers.

In homage to the “Peter Principle” many a fine salesperson has become an unhappy and unproductive sales manager. If you have fallen into that trap, you have choices.

  • Change who you are
  • Change what you do

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “If you find yourself on the wrong road, turn back”

Changing what you do is easier than changing who you are.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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