Interesting question, but what difference does it make?
Many, many years ago Peter Drucker, considered the Father of Modern Management, recognized the shift from work done and perfected by repetition, skills through training and quantifiable measurement to the "knowledge worker". Knowledge workers use their education, experience and subject matter expertise to define alternative courses of action, make decisions, and take responsibilities for outcomes and expected contributions—much like executives do.
What do sales people do and what is expected of them? Are sales managers with their reps on every call? We hope not. Sales people, in general, are expected to take full responsibility for their actions and outcomes with prospects and customers. The best managers can do is define processes, train on skills, coach, set expectations and hold them accountable to outcomes. Executives are expected to be self-motivated, and to some degree be self-reliant, knowing what help they need, where to get it, ask for help, plan and report outcomes.
If this is true, then salespeople are executives and should be managed that way:
Clear communication of expectations and contributions
Not only revenue, but type of customers, identification of new products and services, competitive feedback, pricing and many other pieces of information and knowledge to shape organizational strategy and direction
Coaching to assist in knowledge and skill building
Specific new knowledge that would enhance the skill sets and approach that a sales executive needs to be successful.
If you want to learn more about how to best lead your team, or are interested in ongoing business and leadership skill-development, consider joining a Convene Peer Advisory Group.
You can also learn more about growing your leadership in this Convene White Paper, Learning How to Make Your People More Successful
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Swette is Managing Partner, Sales Growth Associates, a center for Sandler Training. Rob is a member of Convene Group 33 in San Diego. Rob works with organizations that are committed to improving and creating the best sales teams they can through training, coaching and consulting.