3 Reasons Sales Managers Focus on Selling vs. Managing

6 May 22

Why do some new sales managers focus their responsibilities on selling, as opposed to managing their sales teams? As a leader, how can you fix this?

Senior sales leaders become frustrated when their sales managers, many of whom were promoted from the sales ranks, focus their responsibilities on selling as opposed to managing their sales teams.

While it's important for sales managers to have good selling skills, the emphasis on closing deals versus managing their teams has negative long-term consequences.

Focusing on selling versus managing creates a number of problems inside an organization. Sales representatives can end up neither coached nor held accountable by their managers. In addition, negative morale can develop from sales reps who feel they're being upstaged by their managers in front of clients.

It's important to understand why managers focus on selling, as opposed to managing, to address the root causes of this problem.

Reason #1: Comfort Zone

Sales Managers who were formally top-performing sales representatives are in their comfort zone, perhaps even thriving, when they're selling. Conversely, they're not sure how to approach their new sales management responsibilities. Getting out of their “comfort zone” requires a mindset shift that their success is no longer based on their personal ability to close business, but instead on the overall performance of their sales team (i.e., success as a manager is achieved through and with their team).

Reason #2: Short Term Results

Sales Managers are under intense pressure to achieve results. While they may understand the benefits of developing their teams, they're being held accountable for short-term sales goals. This is especially true at publicly traded companies whose valuations are dependent on the achievement of quarterly revenue goals.

While this pressure is real, the manager's perception is likely a false choice between achieving near-term sales goals and managing their team. Instead, they would likely generate even better results by conducting weekly pipeline reviews with their teams. By taking the time to review opportunities, they can coach sales representatives on how to advance most opportunities. As part of this process, they can also identify any specific opportunities which may require their hands-on sales experience.

Reason #3: Don’t Know How

The skills required to succeed as a sales representative are different skills than those of a sales manager. This is clearly illustrated in the table below.


Unfortunately, many sales organizations neglect the importance of developing their sales managers on how to coach, manage and lead their sales teams.

What to Do: Invest in Your Managers

From an investment perspective, training sales managers can provide significant benefits, including faster ramp-up time for new hires, more members of the sales team achieving quota, and lower turnover rates. In addition, sales managers become increasingly confident in their responsibilities as sales team enablers and realize tremendous satisfaction in achieving results through their teams.


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