Common Mistakes Made by Sales Managers

Michele Warg
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The sales industry is the most competitive industry on the face of the planet. A good sales team knows how to persevere in that competitive environment and routinely make progress; a good sales manager knows what it takes to motivate and inspire the sales team. All too often, sales managers let their sales teams suffer from a lack of coaching and leadership. Here are a few common sales management mistakes and how to correct them.

One common mistake many sales managers make is placing too much emphasis on competition. Many managers try to motivate their sales force by creating contests and competitions within the sales team or ranking them by their performance. While contests can work to add some pep to the sales team in the short term, over time they can decrease morale, especially among those who don't make it into the top tiers. Moreover, the top performers have no motivation to help their lesser-performing colleagues. The whole setup is a breeding ground for jealousy, resentment and ultimately dissatisfaction.

Another common sales manager mistake is to forget to appreciate your sales team, even during a hard month. Every salesperson, good or bad, has good days and bad days. It's important to thank each salesperson for their hard work consistently and not just when they are on top of the charts. Sales can be emotionally and mentally draining and is rife with rejection. Maintaining your sales team's confidence will help carry them through the bad days, and they will know they are appreciated as members of the team, not just as money-makers.

Another common management mistake is constantly stepping in to save the day. If a salesperson is having a hard time closing the sale, the worst thing you can do is to step in between the salesperson and the prospect to facilitate the sale. While this might solve the immediate problem and seem like a helpful gesture, it actually undermines the salesperson's credibility with that client forever, not to mention the salesperson's self-confidence. The client will never want to deal with that salesperson if they know that the sales manager holds the real power. Instead of stepping in to fix a salesperson's problem, involve him in the problem-solving process. Ask him questions about what he can do to turn a problem around – not only will this develop his confidence and problem-solving skills, it will also break the cycle of neediness with you.

Sales and managing salespeople require many similar talents, including the ability to understand another person's problem, determine the cause of the problem and offer an effective solution. So naturally, sales managers possess all the skills they require to run a great sales team. The secret is to utilize those talents constantly instead of falling back on comfortable behaviors and habits.


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  • Ken Click
    Ken Click

    Great advice. These steps are reasons why a Sales Manager should come from climbing the steps of a Sales Rep.

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