Sales Leadership Dysfunction —“Super Hero” Sales Managers
My last pose in this series was Disconnected Sales Execs. This week, I continue focusing on the “Super Hero” Sales Managers. We know who these types of sales managers are: They’re the people who swoop in on deals, taking them away from the sales person, closing the deals themselves.
Of the differing types of Dysfunctional Sales Managers, this is probably the worst, for a number of reasons.
- They don’t understand their jobs. They think it’s about closing deals–that’s the job of sales people, not sales managers. Yes, they were probably great as individual contributors. Their abilities to close deals may have been what got them the sales management job in the first place. But the job of a sales manager isn’t closing deals, it’s maximizing the performance of each person on their team. It’s helping develop their people’s capabilities to close deals themselves–as a consequence, enabling the team to achieve it’s goals.
- It’s inherently selfish and disrespectful. Being the super hero, focuses everything on them. It removes the focus from the sales person and helping them learn and improve their abilities. Super hero sales managers cheat their people of this opportunity, they don’t help sales people develop, and improve. Often, the super hero sales manager is so blinded by their own egos, the don’t recognize their people are perfectly capable of closing deals themselves,. Instead, they are driven to push the person to the side, driving the deal themselves.
- This behavior cheats the people and the organization. Rather than developing greater capability in the organization, it super hero managers stifle it. The keep things centered on them, and what they do. As a result, their people don’t improve, ultimately limiting the ability of the company to grow.
- They remove ownership and accountability from their people. If the super hero manager, is constantly taking the responsibility away from the sales person, they no longer feel responsible for managing deals or achievingh their goals. All of this becomes the sales managers’s job. As we’ll see in a moment, the numbers go against the sales manager, who ultimately fails. Removing ownership and accountablity may be just what poor performers want. They get to hide out, the sales manager becomes responsible for doing the deals, if they fail, it’s not the fault of the individual, but that of the sales manager. Top performers, on the other hand, will chafe at this. They want to drive the process, they want to own the responsibility, they get great joy in seeing what they’ve accomplished. If the manager takes that away, , ultimately, they will look for other opportunities.
- It’s a sure formula for failure, ultimately the organization won’t make it’s numbers. Think of it this way. As individual contributors, these super hero sales managers may have been very good. Undoubtedly, they worked very hard, putting in long hours, closed deals, and possibly overachieved their goals. But, it took all their time to do this. Now move them from that individual contributor role into sales management. They try to do the same thing, except now they have 10 people reporting to them. Their “workload” has skyrocketed! They are trying to do what took them full time as individual contributors, but now multiplied by 10 times–not to mention their work as managers. We know the outcome of this story–they aren’t doing their jobs as managers, and they can’t possibly do the jobs of 10 people! So they fail–themselves, their people and the organization. Some of you will argue, “Their people are doing a lot of the work, so they aren’t trying to do 100% of the work of 10 people….” While that may be true, run the numbers. Even if they are doing only 10%, that adds 100% to their jobs! Being a sales manager is a more than a full time job, adding on the time it takes them to be super heroes, and it’s another 100%. In reality, it ends up being much more. Since they are constantly involving themselves, since they have taken away ownership, they end up having to do much more of the work sales people should do. So ultimately, these super hero sales managers simply are overwhelmed and fail.
There’s no room for super heroes in sales management—at least if you want the organization and your people to grow and thrive. Sales managers who insist on being super heroes should be given that opportunity—but as individual contributors. They should move back into sales roles and out of management.
The true super hero in sales management is the person that maximizes the performance and engagement of every person on the team.
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