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The Myths of Sales Management

The Myths of Sales Management

Following are popular misconceptions, or myths, about sales management (professionals) and the process of hiring them:

Myth: General management skills are sufficient.
Fact: Management positions are different enough that no one individual can fill all of them successfully. Running a business, for example, requires a variety of specialized skills that are quite different from those of running a sales organization.

Myth: Sales management failures result from the “Peter Principle.”
Fact: Eighty to ninety percent of management failure is due to a mismatch between the person and the position, rather than a manager upwardly climbing to his or her level of incompetence.

Myth: Great Sales Managers are born that way.
Fact: While some management skills, like intelligence, conceptual ability, leadership and charisma are probably based on genetics. Others, such as effective communicating and business acumen, can be acquired with practice and experience.

Myth: Anyone can be a great Sales Manager.
Fact: Basic management skills can be refined and improved by twenty to fifty percent, but no more. Thus, a poor decision-maker can become average, but is unlikely to ever be exceptional.

Myth: Job interviews can identify sales management potential.
Fact: The typical job interview increases the chances of choosing the best candidate by less than two percent. In other words, flipping a coin would be only two percent less reliable than basing your decision on an interview.

Myth: Similar-seeming individuals will succeed at similar jobs.
Fact: Duplicating success may seem like a good idea, but this is only possible through a comparison of large enough samples of top performers and weak per­formers to find the factors that consistently distinguish winners from “also rans.”

Myth: Sales Managers should be “jacks of all trades.”
Fact: While companies continue to demand that Sales Managers be able to play many roles, research reveals that the most critical factor for predicting success in any job is usually as important, or more important, than all other factors combined.

Myth: Personality is more important than job skills.
Fact: Many consultants and testing firms maintain that certain personality factors help en­sure management success. However, solid statistical research from many objective sources shows little correlation between any personality factor and any specific job.

Myth: Sales management failures don’t have a pattern.
Fact: Research consistently shows that people fail in a job due to factors different from the criteria used to select them. Companies that identify these “failure points” and build them into the selection process can reduce hiring mistakes by as much as 25 percent.

Myth: Reference checks aren’t essential.
Fact: Various recruiting and placement agencies report a fairly high percentage of false information presented in résumés and job applications. As many as 15 to 20 percent of job applicants try to hide some dark chapter in their lives.

Myth: All sales management is similar.
Fact: There are three general types of sales management: opportunity management, account management and territory management, all of which include call management as an integral part.

Myth: All sales organizations are measured similarly.
Fact: According to research conducted by Jason Jordan, there are several hundred different metrics that various sales organizations use to measure themselves.

To counteract these myths and come up with a more useful definition of sales management, it’s first necessary to apply some intellectual rigor to the subject of management in general. There are five generic types of managers in the modern corporation: Line Manager; Staff Manager; Profit Center Manager; Individual Contributor; Sales Force Manager.

Read more about the five generic types of managers in The Future of Selling book series, volume #9 The Sales Management of the Future.