Sales managers can make or break a sales team. While mistakes made by salespeople can have an effect on a company’s bottom line, mistakes by sales managers will cause problems for their entire sales team. It’s like tipping over a domino, causing the entire row of dominos to fall, except all of the dominos are overworked, and severely addicted to caffeine.
While there are a lot of mistakes sales managers can make, some are worse than others. Here are the five biggest ones that you should be very careful to avoid:
1. Using your one-on-one meetings ineffectively
Your one-on-one meetings with sales reps should be focused on strategy, not on a useless recap of performance numbers. Your sales reps know how many deals they did or didn’t close, and going over those things again does little to advance your cause. Focus on areas of improvement, goals, and an actual plan of attack, not on rehashing the past or useless platitudes.
2. Not moving on from non-performing sales reps quickly enough
It’s one of the toughest aspects of the job, but knowing when to move on from a sales rep who isn’t performing is key, and doing it sooner than later is critical. No one wants to be the one to take away someone’s income, but a sales team is the epitome of a performance-based organization, and the quicker you can replace a non-performer with someone who can produce, the quicker your higher-level objectives will be achieved.
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3. Not pushing the marketing and product teams enough
There are lots of sales managers who simply don’t ever think to work with marketing or product to help achieve their objectives, but those who do, and those who are willing to push, get an edge on everyone else. As sales leaders, you’re on the ground floor of what works to attract your customers (marketing), and what kind of products they find compelling. Relaying that information aggressively, and fighting for the right solutions wherever you can is a sales management responsibility that too many overlook.
4. Not running your sales teams by the numbers
We’ve covered which numbers sales managers should keep their team focused on before, and not doing so is one of the biggest sales management mistakes. You can’t fix a problem if you’re not honestly and objectively identifying what it is to begin with. Understand your team’s goals, your team’s current performance, and the daily activities that need to take place to bridge the divide between the two. Spreadsheets are boring and intimidating, but they can also serve as the map to get you where you want to go.
5. Not setting the right example for the team
There are lots of managers (not just sales managers) who believe their job is to delegate, and then sit in their office with the door closed on ESPN.com or shopping online. This is the worst kind of example to set for your team, especially in an action-driven sales environment. The sales manager should be the hardest worker on the team, and everyone who works for them should try to mimic, or at least respect their work ethic. It’s hard to ask someone to work hard when you’re not willing to do it yourself, just as it’s hard to justify being lazy when your boss is working his or her butt off.