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Why "Superman" Sales Managers Are Bad for Business

Dirk Beveridge, President — 4th Generation Systems

• distribution management best practices • sales practices • management strategies • Wholesale Distribution Industry • sales management • sales management styles in distribution • distribution industry sales management

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I had a chance to sit in on my friend and colleague Dirk Beveridge's session on "Sales Management and Developing Sales Managers into Highly Capable People in the Organization." Even though I have a great history in sales management, I learned a lot in the session.

There were a few things that struck me in particular, including Dirk's argument that there are four different types of management styles that people have for sales management. The third type, which I thought was really fascinating, was the "Superman" type. I'll admit that I used to fall into that category because I didn't recognize how it could limit my effectiveness as a sales manager.

Part of the problem is the way we choose managers, Dirk noted, "Why were most sales managers promoted from sales into sales management? It's because they're great at selling, right? I think it's time to change it, because we already know that the best salespeople don't make the best sales managers. The skill sets and the responsibilities are different. So the top salespeople are still being promoted to sales management and we've got to ask ourselves: What do they still love to do? They don't know how to coach, they don't know how to develop, they don't know how to discipline and reward and motivate individuals."

It's certainly not like doing the same thing but with a higher paycheck. You're no longer managing customers; you're managing salespeople. You're not managing customer relationships; you're managing and coaching people to go out and have better relationships. It's so different. Eventually managers who come from sales wind up developing what Dirk calls a "Superman Syndrome", where they'll look for the first opportunity to jump in and save the day.

Dirk went on to explain that "Managers promoted from being sales people are so good at sales that we relish the day when one of our sales representatives call us up and say, 'Hey, manager, can you come on out here? I got a tough account. He's not letting me in, he's not giving me a chance, but I know you can get to him.' That's my best day because now I can get out of the office and do my thing. It's a chance to show my rep that I'm still great at it. However, if we continue to sell for our salespeople, we stop their growth and their development. The simple rule that sales managers need to follow is to stop solving your people's problems."

No matter where you are in the organization, you have certain things that only you can do, and if you're out there doing the sales job for a salesperson, then who's doing your job? Who's doing the planning, who's doing the coaching, who's developing new programs, who's making sure that people are moving forward, if you only have a certain amount of time? Those are the things that you're really supposed to be doing in sales management.

For more information about Dirk Beveridge, visit: www.4thgenerationsystems.com

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