Why Mark Roberge Won’t Promote His Best Reps

Eventually, all growing sales teams become too big to be managed by a single person. When this happens, the Sales VP has 2 options: conduct an external search to bring in a new manager or promote a rep from his own team to step up and fill the void. The vast majority of Sales VPs who choose the second option tend to promote the highest-performing rep from their team, as they understandably believe that the most effective rep will be able to “lead by example” and pass on the traits that made them so successful with the other reps now under his guidance.

But this philosophy has one notable detractor. Mark Roberge, who presided over a huge sales expansion at HubSpot, believes that promoting your best rep to sales manager is exactly the wrong approach.

“There’s a theory that says you shouldn’t promote your best reps because sometimes they’re a little egotistical and they have no empathy,” he told InsightSquared during a long interview recently.

In addition to maybe having a swollen head, rock star reps might not be a good fit for a management position because they often rely too heavily on their innate skills and have a hard time coaching other, less talented reps to the same heights.

What should you do instead? You don’t want to promote your worst reps, after all. So who should you promote?

“I look for reps that are somewhere between very good and exceptional,” Mark said, before explaining that he believes the best managers are well-rounded and competent across the board without any real weaknesses. This allows them to teach a wide range of newer reps without relying on molding the other reps in their own image or instilling bad habits.

“Whatever weakness they have will be multiplied by 8 when they get an 8-person team,” Mark said.

So how, aside from being well-rounded, does Mark identify good future managers?

“I want someone who has those ‘soft’ leadership skills: listening ability, empathy, building teamwork, managing conflict, coaching ability.”

What other techniques does Mark use to lead a growing sales team? Download our FREE new eBook with the rest of our interview to find out.

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