Why Most Business Owners Shouldn’t Act As Sales Managers, Too

In the life cycle of small to medium-sized businesses, the business owner may be tempted at times to take on the role of sales manager. In most cases this is a bad idea. A really bad idea for several reasons. Let's look at why simultaneously serving as business owner and sales manager seldom works.

The business owner may have the best intentions for helping the business grow and succeed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it's a good person-to-position match to serve as sales manager while also overseeing the entire business operation. Why should the business owner think twice before wearing these dual hats?

Not Enough Time

Even if the business owner is a recognized industry expert and has grown the business from embryo to adulthood, it is tough to be able to dedicate the necessary time to multiple responsibilities at that level. It might be true that the business owner had to wear multiple hats in the beginning, but as the business has grown, each responsibility area has grown, too, and requires full-time attention. The sales function, in particular – being so critical to the financial success of the organization – demands full-time attention toward driving sales in the right direction with the accelerator to the floor. A part-time business owner and a part-time sales manager is not the solution.

Not the Right Skills

The vision and entrepreneurial savvy it takes to start, build and run a maturing business aren't the same skill set it takes to manage a sales team and grow revenue. When it comes to managing people, processes and resources, or maximizing sales efficiency and performance, the sales manager needs laser focus. The sales manager needs to hire the best sales resources, write an appropriate compensation plan, serve as a mentor and coach, and should be well versed in using a CRM, too – able to interpret and use the data to forecast sales and make the necessary corrections using leading, rather than lagging, indicators

Not Good at That

The business owner may have made a point of being engaged in all aspects of the business and acquiring a good working knowledge of the sales management function. But knowledge and intent don't always equate to aptitude and talent. It's possible – perhaps even very likely – that an outside expert has a better mix of skills, knowledge, motivation, experience, aptitude and innate talent for sales management.

Doesn't Like Doing That

Business owners are human; thus, they have a tendency to dedicate their time and attention to activities they enjoy doing. If they don’t like the challenge of sales management, they will inherently spend their time doing what they do like to do. And when that isn’t sales leadership, the sales team and their performance will eventually suffer from this lack of interest. Without a total commitment to sales success, the company is in grave danger.

Really Gets Jazzed by Doing Something Else

The flip side of disinterest toward managing the sales function, of course, is that the business owner probably has a keen interest in some other area (or areas) that are also essential to the success of the company. Perhaps it's the manufacturing process, marketing, finance or product development. Whatever the business owner is truly passionate about will likely garner the lion's share of his or her time, attention, and full-on engagement.

Bottom Line:

Could the business owner step in short term and keep the sales function moving? Perhaps. But in short order, merely "doing your best" without having the time, skills, core talent, interest, and focus, will almost surely begin a downward spiral that threatens the survival of the business. While certain other business areas and functions could be ignored for a while without such dire effects, the business owner simply cannot afford to lead a half-hearted effort in the financial lifeblood of the company: sales!

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