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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Can My Top-Performing Salesperson Become a Top-Performing Manager?

Can My Top-Performing Salesperson Become a Top-Performing Manager

We know that top-performing salespeople are extremely driven to meet and exceed their goals. With that drive also comes the desire to continue to move up the ladder.

As a leader, it’s natural to have these salespeople “next on this list” to move up when a position becomes available. But are all top-performing salespeople destined to become top-performing managers?

Think about that question through the lens of sports. Baseball scouts seek out talented players. Are they all baseball players? Yes.

But when they recruit a first baseman, do they take his ability to throw a 75 mph 12-6 curveball into consideration? Not likely.

The same can be said for salespeople. Are they all in the sales world? Yes. But does it take the same talents to develop new business as it does to lead a team of people, coach them, and hold them accountable to their goals? No.

So, how do you know if your top-performing salesperson has the potential to be an excellent leader? The best way to gain insight is to understand someone’s innate talents.

Retain and Grow Top Performers with a Development Plan

What is talent?

We all have talents. And we all have non-talents, or weaknesses.

If you look up “Talent” in the dictionary, the definition emphasizes that it is a natural ability. Talent is what you have before you add any kind of effort, training, or experience. It’s the “certain something” that is just a part of how you are wired.

For example, the drive to compete is a talent (and an important one in a salesperson). People who are highly competitive have exhibited that behavior from a very young age. They were likely the children throwing temper tantrums on the soccer field because they didn’t get to be the ones to score the goal. All the while, other children were picking at the grass or headed to the sidelines for a snack.

Unlike skills and experience, talents cannot be taught or gained over time. It is often described using the analogy of land. Just like land, talent can’t be created; we can only develop what is already there in the first place.

Raw talent is truly what separates the best from the rest. To achieve top performance, it’s important to understand someone’s talents and then align their unique talents to the right role.

Which Talents are Critical for Sales Management?

Simply put, working in a B2B sales role takes a certain set of talents. Working in a B2B sales management role takes an entirely different set of talents. When people focus on their talents, they grow. They perform better, their morale is higher, their clients get better results, and they, along with their teams, are more likely to stay engaged in their jobs.

Here is a small sample of the talents that separate top-performing managers from the rest:

  • Purpose: This manager will naturally create a strong, mission-oriented culture. They will help their team understand the “why,” or bigger picture, behind things and the unique impact each individual has on the bigger picture. The talent of Purpose also leads them to strive for high-quality outcomes and continuous improvement.

  • Work Intensity: This manager will be action-oriented and energetic by nature. They’re fueled by hard work and a plate full of responsibilities. With this talent, someone will double down when needed and keep at something until the work is done.

  • Achiever: This manager is a self-starter who consistently sets goals and makes progress on achieving them. Goal setting is a way of life, and they continuously exceed their previous accomplishments. They also take pride in their team's accomplishments and will hold each individual accountable for results.

  • Command: This manager seizes opportunities and takes ownership to deliver. They are continuously on top of everything with their “take charge” nature. Others will look to them for directions because they read situations quickly and create action to achieve outcomes. They also don’t hesitate to stretch people beyond where they thought they could go.

  • Relationship: This manager is naturally curious about others, easily engages with people, invests in personal relationships, and forms bonds across the team. The talent of Relationship lends someone to natural success in coaching others. They will gain energy from helping others learn, grow, thrive, and develop. This is KEY to building a strong team.

  • Business Acumen: This manager makes strong business decisions. They understand the bigger impact decisions will have down the road to maintain long-term growth. They also establish clear expectations for success and always keep a competitive eye on business outcomes.

The Best Sales Managers Know How to Maximize Their Own Talents

How Can You Assess Whether Your Salesperson Has the Innate Talent for a Leadership Role?

Most people will probably say – I can spot it! Although it is possible to “spot” talent, often, our instincts can be incorrect.

The best and most reliable way to understand someone’s talents (and weaknesses) is to use a validated talent assessment built for the particular role you’re looking to fill.

For example, the talent assessment for a sales manager role will measure the talents listed above – and more! While an assessment for a salesperson will measure a set of completely separate talents. Using a talent assessment is a comprehensive and objective approach.

Top-tier assessments are scientifically validated, benchmarked against the best in the industry, and predictive in nature. At CSS, we offer a wide variety of validated talent assessments that are specific to a number of job roles.

How Should You Position the Assessment?

Instead of waiting until you have an open management position, weave validated talent assessments into your ongoing succession planning process.

During your growth conversations with your direct reports, gain an understanding of where they want to go. Do their goals include eventually moving up within the company? If so, offer to help them gain a better understanding of their innate leadership talents with a talent assessment. This strategy has three clear benefits:

1. It shows that you are invested in their career growth as much as they are. This builds your relationship with the individual and increases their likelihood of remaining with the company.

2. The individual will receive a report that outlines their top talents, along with actionable strategies they can use to help grow those leadership talents. Together, you can work to build a targeted development plan for the individuals identified with high potential.

3. Behind the scenes, you will gain insight into whether or not the individual has the innate talents to lead—BEFORE you put them into a leadership position (and ideally before a position is even available for them to apply).

Remember, not every top-performing salesperson has the innate talents to become a top-performing manager. Set yourself and your organization up for success by gaining insight into each individual’s innate talents as part of their growth and development plan.

Ready to learn more?

Coaching Sales Talent eBook

Topics: sales talent assessment sales talent