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Sales Wolf Blog

The Worst Thing You Can Do to a High Performing Account Manager

Posted by Chris Young

Sep 9, 2014 1:39:16 PM

The worst thing you can do to a high-performing account manager is promote them.  

Have you ever promoted a rock star account manager to outside sales only to see them crash and burn within six to twelve months?the worst thing you can do to an account manager

A good account manager does not always make a good outside salesperson nor a good sales manager.

Recently a Client wanted to know if a high-performing account manager would make a good outside salesperson.  They wanted to reward a high performer.  This account manager was doing a fantastic job managing existing accounts.  In fact, they were even increasing sales per account.  

From experience, my Client knew exactly how I would respond.  

"Let's assess them and know for certain," I said.  

Guessing is for losers...

When it comes to identifying top sales performers, guessing is for losers.  "Get it" executives and sales managers never hire nor promotes a salesperson without ensuring they pass the hiring scorecard and in particular - meet the job benchmark criteria identified by our sales personality aptitude test. 

In other words, the high performer must fit the needs of the job they are being promoted into.  No exceptions. 

Always Use a Sales Personality Test To Identify and Promote Top Salespeople!

"In God we trust, everyone else bring data."  

As is often the case, the high-performing account manager completed their sales personality aptitude test and the results were not pretty.  

Unfortunately, the results suggested this account manager would be a very poor outside salesperson. While this account manager can sell to existing accounts, they had a greatly-reduced potential to cold call - to develop new business.  A well-intended promotion into outside sales would have been a "sentence" for both the account manager and their supervisor.  
What makes a good account manager good does not make for a good outside salesperson.  The Behavioral needs of each position are very different.

Fifteen years ago, I would have given a high-performing account manager a "shot" knowing that I was rolling the dice.  That was before I knew about the power of valid sales personality and aptitude test backed by brain research.

The Peter Principle Is NOT A Sales Hiring Strategy

Remember  the "Peter Principle"?  The "Peter Principle" is the selection of a candidate based on performance in their current role rather than on their abilities relevant to the intended role.use a sales personality aptitude test to promote salespeople

The unique Behavioral Style needs of Account Managers and Outside Sales are different

For Account Management, the salesperson's primary role is to continue to build upon the relationship with the Customer - to engage and develop their needs and meet them through the sale of products and service solutions.  

As a result, we typically seek the following Behavioral Hierarchy to be in rank order and all above the national mean:

  1. Frequest Interaction with Others - Dealing with multiple interruptions on a continual basis, always maintaining a friendly interface with others.
  2. People-Oriented - Spending a high percentage of time successfuly working with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds to achieve "win-win" outcomes.  
  3. Versatility - Bringing together a multitude of talents and a willingness to adapt the talents to changing assignments as required.  
  4. Frequent Change - Moving easily from task-to-task or being asked to leave several tasks unfinished and easily move on to the new task with little or no notice.  
  5. Customer Relations - A desire to convey your since interest in your Customer.
  6. Urgency - Decisiveness, quick response and fast action.
  7. Competitiveness - Tenacity, boldness, assertiveness and a "will to win" in all situations.  

If you look at the Account Management Behavioral Hierarchy, you will notice it is more "people-oriented" than "task-oriented".  Sales Personality Aptitude Test Sample Assessment

For Outside Sales, the salesperson's primary role is to open doors - to prospect to identify new Customers - to sell to them and then to move on.  The focus is less on relationship relative to Account Management and more on making the initial sale.  In fact, the more "relationship-oriented" the salesperson is, the more likely they will suffer from "cold call rejection".  

For Outside Sales, we typically seek the following Behavioral Hierarchy to be in rank order and all above the national mean:

  1. Competitiveness - Tenacity, boldness, assertiveness and a "will to win" in all situations.  
  2. Urgency - Decisiveness, quick response and fast action.
  3. Frequent Change - Moving easily from task-to-task or being asked to leave several tasks unfinished and easily move on to the new task with little or no notice.
  4. Versatility - Bringing together a multitude of talents and a willingness to adapt the talents to changing assignments as required.  
  5. Frequest Interaction with Others - Dealing with multiple interruptions on a continual basis, always maintaining a friendly interface with others.

If you review the Behavioral Hierarchy for Outside Sales, you will notice it is far more "task-oriented" than "people-oriented".  Compare the Outside Sales Behavioral Hierarchy to that of Account Management.  Notice the difference in Behavioral Style need.

Use a Sales Personality Aptitude Test That Measures Behaviors AND Motivators

As I have mentioned in prior blog posts, it is absolutely vital to identify the Motivators sales candidates have to ensure they are driven to sell.  An excellent article you can read is The Two Motivators That Drive EVERY Sales Wolf.

How about you?  What has your experience been in promoting account managers?  Have a story to share?

Topics: Sales Management

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