Three Reasons Sales Managers Fail

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: September 25, 2020
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I’ve said it more than once in my role of coaching the coach: Sales managers get set up to fail. They’re promoted to sales management with little understanding, training or education about what it takes to build and develop a great sales organization.  

Selling to a prospect and customer is different than teaching a salesperson how to sell to prospects and customers.

Qualifying prospects and customers are different skills than those needed for qualifying and vetting potential sales candidates.

Asking for a commitment from prospects and customers is different than asking for commitments from your sales team.

But here is the good news.

You learned how to be a great seller. You can learn how to be a great sales leader.

Apply the EQ skill of self-awareness and ask yourself this powerful question: What are the new skills I need to learn, develop and master to become as good in sales management as I was as an independent contributor?

Here are three areas I often see that lead to sales management failure.   

1. No hiring and recruiting process. Getting the right salespeople on your bus is the difference between hell and heaven. Good people. Good life. But remember, a recruiting process is different than a hiring process.

Failure happens when sales managers don’t have a recruiting process. They haven’t established or aren’t executing their new sales activity plan.  And that plan is prospecting for and connecting with potential sales candidates every week and month. Without this consistent activity, sales managers are doomed to fall into the, “I hire when I’m desperate” bucket. Always be recruiting.

Let’s look at the hiring processes. This is the process by which you vet candidates from your people pipeline funnel. You can have a full pipeline, but if you don’t know how to vet and qualify who should be on your team, get ready for failure.

Most sales managers have not been trained in behavioral-based interviewing skills. They don’t have a hiring playbook with customized questions to test specific competencies and skills.

As a result, they show up at the interview, wing it and rely on their gut to make a million-dollar decision.

Failure ahead.

2. No sales playbook. OK, you’ve hired a great salesperson, but time to success (cash) is slow. The salesperson is investing a lot of time trying to “figure it out” rather than selling. Without a playbook, there’s a good chance you haven’t identified or communicated your company’s ideal client profile. Your new seller pursues prospects that look good but are never going to buy.

There are no value propositions for prospecting, so the seller makes up his own. He’s really busy reaching out, but nothing is converting because the messaging is wrong. Your new seller is busy but not productive.   

Your very good new hire is spending more time on “figuring it out” than selling! Failure to launch occurs because there is no sales playbook.

3. Ineffective teaching and coaching skills. Sales managers teach and preach the importance of pre-call planning before each sales call. But seldom are they applying those same practices to their coaching sessions. For example, prior to a coaching session, do you know:

  • The purpose and objective for this coaching session? Does your salesperson know? Is the focus on building or honing specific selling skills? If so, which skills will you focus on? Have you designed drill skills and role plays to ensure an effective coaching session?
  • Maybe you are working on identifying and changing a seller’s self-limiting belief? If so, have you designed effective coaching questions BEFORE the coaching session to shift the seller’s paradigm?

Reality check: If a sales manager doesn’t know the purpose and objective of the coaching session, they will show up unprepared.  And your seller leaves the coaching session with the same selling issues.  (And very uninspired.)

Failure ahead.

Be the sales leader you know you want to be and can be. Learn, develop and master the new skills needed to build a great sales organization.

Good Selling!

Join other sales leaders on October 9th for our FREE Coach the Coach roundtable with Colleen. Get your invite by sending in your picture with Colleen’s newest book, Emotional Intelligence For Sales Leadership. Email it to team@salesleadershipdevelopment.com.