Whether or not you are a fan of Boris Johnson it’s difficult to deny his obvious charisma and intelligence as well as his ability to deliver show-stopping speeches – most notably at this year’s Conservative Party Conference.

Johnson’s profile has risen to such an extent that some commentators believe he could have a shot at becoming the next Prime Minister.

Just because Johnson has the ability to attract a massive following, it doesn’t mean he has the credentials to run the country.

Switch to the sales environment: the most obvious candidates for promotion might be the top sellers. Why? Well, because someone that continually over-achieves their sales targets, does not necessarily have the very specific skillset required to motivate and inspire others to emulate his or her performance standard.

Bonuses and targets

A top seller will be motivated by the concept of bonuses, working to monthly targets and constantly developing selling strategies, supported by regular sales training courses. The same top seller may not be so motivated by the thought of inspiring other members of the team or setting goals for the entire department. If anything, selling can often be a task that is done in isolation, whereas management and leadership require an individual to look beyond his or her own tasks and improve the work of others.

If the skillsets are so different, why do so many businesses push top sellers up through the business into leadership roles?

Here’s a thought: Businesses looking to restructure their sales teams could benefit from external expertise and consultancy. This kind of support can help organisations determine whether or not their best seller is ready for management and possesses the qualities required for a leadership role.

It is worth taking extra steps to ensure the right person is appointed in order to avoid the damage that a bad manager can have on the entire sales department. If an employee has a bad relationship with their manager, they are more likely to look for a new job, become demotivated, suffer from stress and take time off sick.

An organisation may also find that the sales person they have earmarked for promotion might be best left to what they do best. After all, if someone is promoted into a management role, they will have less time to sell and make profit for the business.

Alternatively, businesses could equip top sellers for promotion by providing them with development opportunities. Coaching and mentoring can be delivered on the job, and can provide real-time support and guidance.

This kind of training can be used to: increase confidence; encourage personal responsibility; overcome barriers; maximise potential and achieve individual and business goals, while moving a sales person’s career forward.

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