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Death Of The Accidental Sales Manager


Your sales manager does not have to struggle.  My story does not have to be your story because of the lessons learned.

My experiences and struggles during a 32 year sales career is a case study in why many mid-market companies struggle to build and maintain a sales organization that consistently achieves revenue objectives.

Perhaps my story sounds familiar, I will outline it for you:

  • A salesperson gets traction quickly
  • The salesperson quickly rises to the top half of your sales team, and even more quickly to be one of the top producers
  • The salesperson seems to move effortlessly from prospect to customer
  • 2 -3 years after their start he is promoted to Sales Manager

Let’s stop there.  This is story that happened a few times in my career. This scenario may sound familiar because it happens throughout many industries.  The situation causes the most damage to the Businesses that are in the $10 million to $75 million revenue range.

In fact, it will happen frequently over the next couple of weeks because it is year-end.  A salesperson is promoted to Sales Manager because he/she “is a natural” and, the CEO believes this salesperson will teach the rest of the team how  to teach the sales team how to sell  like  him/her/

Sadly, this fairy tale rarely ends well; it did not for me the first time it happened.  I hate to lose, so we grew revenue by a measly 11%. However, the experience was awful–for everyone.  I was miserable and my team was not coached well nor provided the support they needed.

I was promoted to Sales Manager; expected to continue to be a top producer, and “manage” the sales team that was already under-performing.  I was now being paid a salary, plus commissions, the belief was I was motivated to get it done.  I was naive and arrogant enough to believe that I could.

I did not have an understanding of how to create accountability or manage a team. I had invested in myself to become a better salesperson, not a sales manager.  The CEO, nor I, realized I lacked this competency.

The challenge to become a great sales manager was compounded because the sales process I used was in my head; not written down.  I could not show the process to anyone or easily articulate it to the rest of the sales team.

It got worse.  I did not know how to coach a salesperson. I assumed every salesperson knew how to do a pre-call plan and de-brief their own meetings.  How important is coaching?

This graphic from the Objective Management Group data at the top of this article illustrates the impact of coaching on salespeople.

If each salesperson is 49% more effective, what does that translate to in dollars at your organization?

Don’t let the story from early in my career be the story of your sales managers.  Today we have a variety of options to help Sales Managers become more effective.  We give your Sales Managers the training and structure they need to do their job.

The story of today has better outcomes.  Often the outcomes are transformational revenue growth, usually with slightly higher margins.  On average, we help CEOs achieve 31% revenue growth in 12 months—an average, not a guarantee.

There is NOT a magic pill to do this.  It takes commitment and effort.  However, the ROI is significant and the results are long lasting when there is desire from the top to maintain a sales culture.


Our commitment, if you are a serious, and growth-minded CEO, we will spend an hour with you via Zoom to ask each other some questions.  If we don’t think we can help, you will tell you.  We might be a resource.  If we believe there might be a fit, we can agree to keep talking.

If interested, please send an email – we will make it easy to schedule. Good luck to all the accidental sales managers!!

With 30+ years of experience in business development, sales coaching, and sales management positions, Walter has gained deep understanding of, and rare insight into managing and implementing a sales process. His unique, best-in-class sales assessment tools and CRM software have proven to be exactly what businesses need to transform their sales team and process.

You owe it to yourself and your sales team to find out how Helix Sales Development can transform your business. Schedule a call today, and discover a renewed sense of potential for your business.