How Many Salespeople Must You Have Before You Hire a Sales Manager?

That was the question posed to me yesterday while speaking at the Crystal Palace in Livingston NJ.

To effectively answer that question one must ask another question, that being, what is the largest number of salespeople a sales manager can manage?

If a sales manager is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, focusing on daily accountability, daily coaching, daily motivation, daily development and on-going recruiting, it wouldn’t be realistic to do all that with more than a dozen salespeople.  One couldn’t do it effectively with more than ten and six to eight would be ideal.

Now back to the original question.  If you already have salespeople, but not a sales manager, I would assume that you personally aren’t spending much time on the crucial activities I mentioned in the previous paragraph, if at all.  That would suggest that you should already be considering a sales manager, even if it is to manage one or two salespeople. At least they’d finally be managed!

The follow up question is, which comes first, the salespeople or the sales manager?

If you already have salespeople and then introduce a new sales manager, there is a period of time during which the sales manager must develop relationships, build credibility and earn their respect.  Those activities, which could take as long as several months, must occur prior to engaging in the crucial sales management actives I mentioned three paragraphs back.  On the other hand, if you start with a sales manager, new salespeople can expect to be managed in exactly that manner.  If your first hire is a sales manager, half of this person’s time should be spent selling and the other half recruiting and managing.  At the point where the manager has three people, 75% of the time should be devoted to managing.  Finally, when six salespeople report to the sales manager, 100% of the time should be devoted to managing those salespeople.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.