I was recently interviewed by BusinessInterviews.com and one of the questions was “What are some common mistakes you see sales managers making that can be easily avoided or corrected?” Well the real answer is that if they were easily avoided or corrected then the sales managers probably wouldn’t be making them, but I didn’t say that exactly. You can read that interview here. It got me thinking though about those common mistakes that sales managers make and I have come up with my Top Five List.
5. Lack of Consistent Sales Process
Of the hundreds of sales teams we have evaluated, I would venture to guess that we see this common flaw almost 100% of the time. Salespeople have not been taught, nor are they comfortable following a repeatable process. The impact of having salespeople follow a consistent process is thought to increase sales by 15%, even without significantly increasing sales skills. But most sales managers allow salespeople to shoot from the hip. Maybe because that is what they did and had success. All, salespeople can benefit from implementing a repeatable sales process because it will allow them to know exactly what to do at every step along the way. It will cause them to be better questioners, better listeners, and better advisors if they don’t have to wonder what to do next. The best sales managers know this and create and process that makes sense for their team, then coach the team members to follow the process every time.
4. Not Caring What Motivates Their People
All too often, we learn that sales managers believe that they don’t need to know what motivates their people. I think this is because most sales managers were motivated salespeople at one time and just believe that most successful salespeople will be similar to them. The self-limiting belief that: “I did it. They should just go do it too,” can be fairly detrimental to success. I have written about motivation before and the truth of the matter is that people, including salespeople are motivated by different things. Some are motivated by recognition. Some by money and others are motivated by a kick in the pants. The effective manager will understand how the team members are motivated and will tap into that to get optimal results.
3. Paying Attention Only to the Revenue or Business Closed
All too frequently, sales managers spend all their time focusing on the outcome rather than focusing on improving the process or activities that produce the end result. While it cannot be denied that the end result (the sales generated) is the scorecard for salespeople and the sales manager, the best sales managers understand that the end result is really the logical outcome of salespeople doing the right activities. Unfortunately most sales managers pay too much attention on the sales closed and not enough attention on what the salespeople are doing to get to the end result. Focusing in on the behaviors and activities more acutely will produce more consistent and better sales results.
2. Hiring Based on Personality
We help many companies who have had poor success in hiring effective salespeople. More often than not, it is because the sales manager has gotten into a habit of hiring salespeople who remind them of themselves. It is not easy to find good sales talent and most sales managers don’t do it frequently enough to follow a good predictive process. Lazy sales managers would rather just hire themselves into the role and not have to manage them, so that is what they attempt to do. The cost to the companies is outstanding, in terms of hard costs associated with the hiring, but more significantly in the opportunity costs associated with lost sales. This is especially costly in industries where multi-year contracts are signed. The best sales managers recognize that they cannot rely solely on their gut instinct to make good hires so they utilize a more robust process including sales specific assessments such as this one. Feel free to read my case study titled “Finding a Better Way to Hire”.
1. Not Spending Enough Time Coaching Their Salespeople
The impact of this particular mistake is enormous, but on the surface it is easily fixed. They just need to spend more time coaching their salespeople. In reality it is a little more complicated. Why don’t they spend enough time now? Are they not “people” people? Do they lack confidence in their ability to do it? Are they intimidated by the better salespeople? It doesn’t matter why, the fact is that the best sales managers spend significant time coaching their salespeople – in the best cases up to 50% of their time. To be truly effective sales managers need to spend at least 30% of their time coaching their salespeople. And coaching specifically means pre-briefing calls, debriefing calls, going on calls to listen, not take over, and helping salespeople incorporate a repeatable sales process to produce consistent results.
In short, if sales managers can avoid these five common mistakes, they will set themselves up for greater success, will avoid the pitfalls of sales management and will be able to drive sales results more consistently through the sales team. If you’d like to read tips on what sales managers should do read my ebook “The Five Essentials of Effective Sales Management”.