Think about the consequences.
From the data, we found that when a top-ranking salesperson gets promoted and goes to manage a team, the performance of the entire team goes down. There could be many reasons for this. It could be that it’s just destructive for the accounts. Or it could be that they got promoted but worked better independently, which is a trait that doesn’t transition well to being a good manager. Obviously organizations also take a hit to their numbers when they lose that great salesperson, who is now not out there selling, to management. Sales leadership needs to see the actual cost of promotions and determine what is best for both the individual and the company itself.
Change the incentive structure.
Create an additional rating system.
The idea for an additional rating system comes out of many engineering and corporate settings. It’s another way organizations, at least outside of sales, have tried to fight the Peter Principle. Often you will see one rating system for giving out bonuses, and then another rating system for assessing the potential for promotion. Many technology companies will say, "Here's your rating as a software engineer. But here’s your rating on whether you’d be a good manager, what you would need to work on to get there, and how you’d be rewarded.” This approach provides transparency of the challenges and potential rewards of a promotion without needing to immediately take that career path.
Look for who is most likely to succeed.
We also found that the salespersons who moved on to become good sales managers had often been involved in a lot of complicated deals and shared credits for very complex sales. For example, some were deals that spanned different products, territories, and parts of the sale cycle. It appears that these people might have more of the political build to navigate an organization and might share the values of communicating and working within larger teams.
“Sales leadership needs to see the actual cost of promotions and determine what is best for both the individual and the company itself.”