What Does it Take to Become a Sales Manager?

I was listening to a Boston Sports Radio Station, the same one I wrote about here.  Today’s guests were Christian Fauria, former tight end of the New England Patriots, and Matt Chatham, former linebacker of the same New England Patriots.  They were discussing the very recent resignations of 3 coaches from this year’s Patriots team and the co-hosts asked, “Would you like to coach?”

After his football career ended, Chatham went back to school and received an MBA from Babson in 2011.  With that in hand, he said that he would prefer a front office job and wishes to become a GM.  On the other hand, Fouria said that he would love to coach, but…

There were a lot of buts:

The long hours – Coaches stay behind long after the players are gone – usually until 2 AM during the season.

3 Steps Backwards – Former players have to start all over again as coaches.  High School or college jobs – as assistants – before getting high school or college jobs as head coaches before getting coaching jobs in the NFL.

Low Pay – At the college level, the name of the game is recruiting – an extremely time-consuming, travel-centric job.  The college jobs don’t pay particularly well or come with much recognition unless they are with the big-time schools.

It got me thinking about the road most often taken to sales management.

The hours are about the same, it’s a step up, and it usually pays better.  Compared to the rocky road to coaching in the NFL, the road to sales management absolutely sounds like a road paved with gold!  Which explains why the road paved with gold leads to a dump.

You see, only 18% of all sales managers are any good at coaching and only 66% of them can be coached up.  Another 18% should not even be in sales management.

Clearly, the problem is that it is simply too easy to go from sales to sales management.  If 50% of sales management is coaching and developing salespeople, then the new sales manager would need to have elite selling skills to support the necessary coaching skills which, in most cases, don’t yet exist.  Only 6% of all salespeople have elite skills and only 7% of all sales managers have elite coaching skills.

What if becoming a sales manager was more difficult – like in football – and it required sacrifice, putting in your time, developing new skill sets in a low-pressure environment?  I for one, predict that most salespeople would not go through all of that to become sales managers, unless THIS sales manager earned $500,000 instead of $125,000.  Would they do it then?

After evaluating more than 10,000 sales forces and 700,000 salespeople, it is clear that for all of the mediocre salespeople out there, the real reason for all the mediocrity is the mediocre sales mangers.

Companies need to find a way to raise the bar – way up – when it comes to selecting new sales managers.  And they must put their existing sales leaders through comprehensive, on-going training and coaching to develop their coaching skills.

What Does it Take to Become a Sales Manager?  Today, a new resume is all that’s needed.  Tomorrow?  It should take the equivalent of an MBA program, credentials and certification.

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My article, Inbound Marketing Has Been Around Forever, appears today on the Hubspot Blog.