Having a sales manager who also sells seems like a great way to save on money and keep your best sales rep in the field but there are some significant downsides to this arrangement. Today on The Funnel we talk about the pros and cons on having a selling sales manager. And what to do when you already have one.


What we’re going to cover:

  • Ideal or necessity.
  • Promotion tool.
  • Driving Success.
  • Compensation alignment.


Ideal or necessity.


Leadership structure.

“Some people will tell you that it is ideal, that having a working sales manager means they never lose the feel for selling. If they’re feeling it every day, it makes them a better sales manager.

But i’d say that managing salespeople and selling are completely different job structures and job roles. I would say that it’s not ideal, especially when you’re in a department where there is a leadership structure and you are the manager, you’re responsible for making decisions. It puts you in an awkward spot with your people.”


“However,  it might be a small company and cost is a consideration so I can’t have someone in a full-time management role, there’s just not enough money to justify paying for that. So, I take my best rep and I make them into a selling sales manager and let them hire someone else, and that’s fine. You can do that.”

Promotion tool.


Development plan.

“You should be onboarding and developing your salespeople when they come to your company so you have an idea of what they want to do in their career and you consistently have those conversations, so you can have a development plan in place.

‘Well yes, this person does want to move into a management, they see that as their future, they obviously moved into sales because they wanted the experience, they wanted to make some money, but they feel like their ultimate calling is management’. Great. So how do we put that development plan together?”


“Maybe you start with a mentor-ship, see how they preform, coach them on the training, get them the training and the development on the coaching. Then onboard them into the coaching and sales managing and build a program around that. It doesn’t take a ton of work but it’s necessary. Don’t just promote someone for the sake of promoting them.”

Field Supervisor.

“One of the ways you can do it is a field service, if you have a larger team and you have what’s called field supervisors they have 2 or 3 reps and they supervise and they report back to the sales manager. This is a great way to train them, prepare them for becoming a sales manager. It’s a slow burn process . But there’s onboarding, and there’s the coaching element, a little bit of money.”

Afraid of losing your rep.

“Use these as a promotion tool,  the development plan, mentor, field supervisor, and then move into the management role. And it might be short term management and selling role because you just can’t afford to pay both. But don’t use it as a tool to say ‘I need to keep them'”


Driving Success.


Time management.

“This is a tough role, I need to work on the balance, I need to work on the time management with them. You want them to succeed, you can’t just say 60% of your time is doing this, and 40% of your time is doing that, that’s a generalization. You need to really lay out it out, ‘this is what we expect of you on the management side, this is what we expect of you on the sell side, this is how you’re going to use your time, this is how you coach on a regular basis, your meetings, your pipeline reviews, etc’.”

Competing proprieties. 

“These are competing priorities so we need to separate the two, we need to lock in the time, lock in the program, and address the problems one at a time as they come up because they will. What happens when someone leaves and there’s prime accounts open, who decides who gets those accounts. You see where I’m going with this?”


“You deal with the problems one at a time, you anticipate potential issues that could come up and cause conflict of interest, you’re not going to drive success unless you do those things. They need to have the time to work with their people, they also need to have the time to work on their own stuff. Make a clear delineation in how they spend their time and how they manage and coach and their people need to know that.”


Compensation alignment.


Compensation can be the enemy.

“Compensation alignment could be the big enemy, it could be the big enemy in this process and I’ll tell you why, if they’re paid like a normal sales rep, whatever the compensation plan lays out to be, they’re going to act like a sales rep. Because we all know compensation drives behavior. Works with salespeople, works with the sales manager, especially the good ones. They know exactly how to squeeze every nickel out of the company and hit their targets, revenue, profit, quota, commission bonus, they get it all.

You want them to be a positive contributor not only on the sales side but as a positive contributor on the management side because a good sales manager  is worth their weight in gold.”


Team goals.

“You need to make the compensation plan friendly, friendly to the team, friendly to the company. The reward should be higher for the managing than selling. For example, you take the sales compensation and tie it to team goals. You want to be a sales manager, we moved you into that role, this is how it works for sales managers, they get paid on what their contributors do.

Think about a football team, the players get paid for doing what they do well. A wide receiver gets paid to catch balls, a quarter back gets paid to move the team down the field, hand it off, throw it, make the right calls to the line of scrimmage. The coach gets paid for everybody else doing their job and doing it well. That’s the same with the sales manager.”

How they are paid.

“Yes, you get a little bit for selling, but this keeps them focused on one thing and one thing only, driving the company’s objectives and the company strategies, the team goals, not their own. Sales reps are paid to hit their number. The coach, the sales manager, is compensated on everybody else’s performance so never forget that. Keep that in mind when you’re building a program for a working sales manager, is it ideal? Nope. Is it a necessity sometimes because we don’t have the budget or the money to have both? Yep. So think long and hard before you put somebody in that role.”


Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.

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