- Blog post
Seven Slip-Ups Sales Managers Must Avoid
Are you scratching your head wondering why your sales team is not hitting revenue goals?
Do you feel like you’re doing everything you can but not getting consistent results? Sales management coach Colleen Stanley offers these seven common slip-ups sales managers must avoid:
1. Failing to Transfer Skills
Sales managers often move into the management role because they can identify and win business. Unfortunately, your great selling skills are of no use or value to the organization if you can’t transfer these selling skills to your team.
In the words of Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, “When you take on a leadership role, it’s no longer about you, it’s about them.” In other words, it doesn’t matter how good you are, it only matters how good you can make the individuals on your sales team.
2. Catching the “White House” Disease
It’s easy for sales managers to catch this disease and lose touch with reality. Sales managers start camping out in the “White House” (the corporate office), getting caught up in the minutiae of reports, meetings and firefighting. They forget the real reason they were hired as a sales manager: to train and coach their sales team to the highest level of performance. This isn’t accomplished in the “White House.”
Training and coaching are accomplished by riding with your sales team and calling on the real world – your prospects and clients. The cushy chair in corporate may be more comfortable; the car seat is always more profitable.
3. Field manager, Corporate Manager, All-Around Manager
In the corporate world, Stanley had seven sales managers reporting to her and quickly figured out there were three types: field manager, corporate manager and all-around manager.
Field managers stand staunchly by their team, defend all actions and refuse to understand or endorse corporate objectives.
The corporate manager is interested only in moving up the corporate ladder, leaving their sales team without a voice in the corporation.
The all-around manager gets it. They achieve the hard balance of presenting the sales team’s issues to senior management while communicating and enforcing corporate objectives to their sales team.
The field manager enjoys a lot of love and limited growth, the corporate manager builds a sales culture of distrust, and the all-around manager grows leaders, profits and companies.
4. No Tough Love
When you accept the role of sales manager, you accept the responsibility of growing people as well as profits.
A great sales manager is similar to a great parent. Good parents set expectations of behavior and character for their children, and hold their kids accountable to those expectations. They understand they’re not in a popularity contest and refuse to accept excuses or cave in to comments such as, “none of the other kids’ moms expect them to…..”
Great sales managers set clear expectations for their sales team and don’t cave when the sales team pushes back on standards of excellence. They put aside their need to be liked for the need to be respected. They understand that tough love creates high-performance sales cultures.
5. No Duplicable Sales Process
The example Stanley uses is of an athletic coach and their playbook. An NFL coach always has a playbook and requires each player to study, learn and execute the plays.
The professional football player isn’t allowed to run his or her own playbook, regardless of the number of years they’ve been playing ball. Sales managers, on the other hand, often lack a playbook and give the excuse, “Well, I hire people with sales experience.” The result is a sales manager trying to manage 20 different playbooks.
6. Lack of Prospecting
Sales managers must prospect. But instead of prospecting for business, sales managers must be consistently prospecting for top sales talent. A mistake often made by sales managers is looking for top talent in crisis mode, after someone on their team has been fired, resigns or moves.
The pressure of hitting a sales quota results in sales managers settling for a second-best candidate and expecting first-rate sales results. Great sales managers prospect continuously for top talent to keep their people pipeline full.
7. The Sales Team is Stroke-Deprived and Fun-Deprived
High-driving types often land in the position of sales manager because of their ability to achieve goals. They don’t need a lot of strokes and are very results-oriented. The problem is that high-driving sales managers are often managing salespeople with a high need for recognition, interaction and fun. That is especially true of younger sales reps, in the Gen Y or Millennial age bracket.
The unsuccessful sales manager doesn’t realize their new sales activity plan needs to include pats on the back, creating recognition programs and setting up events to hit the fun quota.