I find that when I work with sales managers who were previously high-performing salespeople, they tend to run into a couple of challenges. It is not unusual for their management style and abilities to be impacted by their previous role as a salesperson. Here is one example of a common problem when a sales star is promoted to sales manager, and how to resolve it.

The Typical Scenario:

The sales manager was a strong producer when they were a salesperson. They were likely highly motivated and maybe did whatever it took to get the job done. They were a self-starter, had strong desire and were willing to do whatever was necessary to succeed.

The Challenge:

Unfortunately, not every salesperson they have will be just like them. They may not be as motivated or as driven, and may not do whatever is necessary on their own. Frequently, the sales manager just assumes that everyone is operating the way that they operated, or would operate, if they were the salesperson. They tend to give the salespeople too much rope because they assume that the salespeople are doing everything they should. Sadly, they are doing their sales team a disservice…and are probably getting themselves frustrated at the same time.

The Fix:

Sales managers need to refrain from projecting any beliefs onto their folks. I would recommend that they approach their job with a healthy dose of skepticism. They must realize that they were promoted to sales manager for a reason. Not everyone approaches the world exactly the way they do and it is possible—even likely—that the other salespeople are not as strong as the manager was. Sales managers need to come to grips with the fact that their salespeople may need some motivation from time-to-time (maybe even daily). While they, themselves, didn’t require any external motivation, it is now their job to provide the motivation to drive results through their people.

They must flush from their brain any preconceived notions about what motivates people, too. It is likely that what motivates the sales team is not what motivated the sales manager when he was in sales. So, the manager needs to get intimate with the salespeople. Understand what makes them tick, provide appropriate coaching, and then execute a healthy dose of oversight.

Remember that as sales manager, the requirement is to drive business through the salespeople, so whatever it takes is necessary to do, just like when they were a salesperson and they did whatever was necessary to get the job done and win sales.

Understanding the underlying dynamics and motivations can help bring an end to the sales manager’s frustration and allow them to start driving the sales team’s success.

Read more: Battling the 57% – Part2: Flanking to Win