Sales Managers’ “to don’t” List!
By Jim Marshall
You are the owner of a successful
business and, although you’re managing to survive in
these turbulent times without massive layoffs and cost
cuts, you’ve decided to take a more active role in
leading your sales team.
Or, you’re the CEO of a large
corporation, you’ve noticed that sales and market share
are lagging and you’ve decided to “shake things up a
bit.” You fire your VP of Sales and promote your top
sales person into the position, although he/she has no
previous managerial training or experience. (Worse, you
are that top salesperson and gladly accept the
promotion. “How hard can this be? I’ll just show ‘em
how I did it.”)
The problem is this: the skills needed
for successful salespeople are not necessarily the same
skills needed for successful sales managers. Promoting
the top-producing salesperson into the sales manager’s
position might be seen as a reward but, without regular
management training and development, the previously
successful top sales producer can become a disaster.
With that in mind, here are 13 surefire
ways the newly promoted sales manager will fail:
Refuse to accept personal
accountability for the behaviors and production of your
Spending time blaming your salespeople,
the market, the economy, the product or the company will
never increase sales. Accepting excuses from
salespeople – rather than identifying and rectifying
problems - does them, and your company, a disservice.
Neglect to develop the
salespeople you manage.
The function of the sales manager is not
to sell. Rather, it is to develop the salespeople on
the team – not by showing them “how you did it,” but by
identifying their individual strengths and weaknesses,
reinforcing the former and addressing the latter.
Focus on the results rather
than the behaviors and activities.
Results are clear to everyone. Your
team’s sales figures and production are probably posted
on the office white board or company intranet. But are
you tracking the activities that are necessary to
achieve those results?
Don't use all the data
available when evaluating your salespeople.
Why guess what makes your sales people
tick when highly accurate, dependable assessment tools
will tell you precisely how and why your sales people
sell – or what’s preventing them from doing so?
Manage all your salespeople
the same way.
Each team member has different skill
sets, motivators and needs. As such, managing everyone
the same way will result in frustration, lack of
clarity, and missed opportunities for growth in the
ability to sell.
Forget the importance of
Sales volume is not the indicator of
success. Dropping the price may get the sale, but it
leads to leaner margins, lack of confidence and a poorly
performing sales force.
Focus on the problems
rather than the objective.
Make sure your team understands your
target market segment and limit their presentations to
qualified prospects. Have them learn as much as they
can about the prospects in that segment.
Be a buddy, not a coach.
The top achievers on your sales force
want to improve and win. Salespeople need a mentor, a
coach, to spur them to leave their comfort zone in order
to find new success.
Don't set standards, and
never rank your salespeople by anything other than
Without clear expectations, without the
awareness that there are varieties of ways to succeed,
and without the knowledge of where they stand,
salespeople flounder into isolation and alienation.
10) Never train your salespeople.
Thinking you know everything your sales
team needs to know about sales limits them to your
experience. Without continual refinement of selling
skills in the rapidly changing marketplace, you can find
yourself unprepared to meet unexpected challenges.
11) Condone incompetence.
Salespeople can actually believe their
lack of competent performance is acceptable when they
see no consequences for their actions – or inactions.
12) Recognize only the top revenue
producers and then, only once a year at bonus time.
Failure to cite all members of the team
as the reason for sales success leads to isolation and
lack of camaraderie. Recognition of everyone's efforts
strengthens the team and leads to greater initiative.
13) Always see conditions instead of
Seeing a down market (or anything that
gets in the way of business) as an unchangeable
condition leads to excuse-making. Accepting excuses
de-motivates the sales force.
Expecting a great salesperson – or
another department head – to succeed as sales manager by
learning on the job just doesn't work. Why? Often
times, they are not trained in assessing, developing,
tracking and coaching salespeople who may be struggling
to generate revenue in a down economy. Applying excess
pressure on the sales force only produces anger,
resentment and resistance. The untrained manager only
pushes harder, the staff “churns and burns” and the
entire system becomes dysfunctional.
So what is the answer? Potential
managers should exhibit the proper attitudes, beliefs
and behaviors that will enable them to be successful.
Then they should be trained on how to properly assess,
develop and motivate the sales force. They – and you –
should understand that the primary function of a sales
manager is to grow their team, so the team will grow the