Sales Management – Three leadership mistakes that decrease sales results

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Posted: November 23, 2010

#1:  80/20 Rule:  Not coaching and training veteran salespeople.   

CEO’s and sales managers often believe that a veteran salesperson doesn’t need continuous sales training and coaching.  Not true.  Take a look at the NFL.  This organization recruits the top 1% of the players to their organization.   These talented football  players have offensive coaches, defensive coaches and a head coach.  The athletic world recognizes a key concept of peak performance that the business world often misses:  repetition is the key to mastery.  Sales skills must be constantly honed and knowledge updated.   Consistent training is becoming even more important in a world where business is global, the customer demands are higher and the competition fierce.  A  sales playbook that worked last year may not work this year.  Remember, when companies would create a three to five year strategic plan?  Now, they are lucky if the can forecast out two years.   

#2:  High tech versus high touch. 

Email is a mode of communication, not a leadership tool.  In many cases, it’s actually decreasing many sales managers ability to connect with their salespeople at a deeper level.   A basic need in all human beings is the need to feel recognized and important.  Incentive trips are nice, bonuses pay the bills, however, paying attention increases motivation and loyalty.  It’s not difficult to execute.  Effective sales managers are present and focused on the salesperson during a coaching session.  They are not checking email or taking that ever important phone call.  Leadership is about making the right decisions.  Decide where you want to be:  on the phone or with the salesperson.   

#3:  Ground Hog Day Sales Meetings.   

Top sales producers value their time and don’t want it wasted.  Many sales meetings are ineffective due to poor planning. There is no agenda prepared thus sending a clear message to the sales team that this is another ‘wing it meeting.’   Or the sales meeting turns into a ‘roll call’ meeting:  top 10 targets, (yawn) where are the prospects in the sales pipeline (yawn) and anticipated close date.  Effective sales meetings have an agenda and dig deeper into sales issues.  Effective strategies and tactics are discussed for finding qualified targets.  The sales manager test the teams selling skills by asking qualifying questions to see if the prospect is really qualified to be in the pipeline.  I.e.  What is the personal impact to the user buyer?  What’s the cost to this prospect of doing nothing?  What value did the prospect assign to improving an opportunity or eliminating a problem? Effective sales meetings are set-up to include training, thought leadership and recognition.  A well designed meeting creates an environment where a salesperson leaves better equipped and motivated to get after it.  Create a book club and discuss one chapter a week.  (Lifelong learners are also your best salespeople.)  Show videos that motivate determination and persistence such as Hoosiers or Rudy. 

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