No one in business sets out to be ineffective in their role. However, many salespeople are set up to fail because they aren’t taught what they need to know to be successful after a promotion from sales to sales management.
The latter demands an entirely different set of skills than those required for selling. And most sales managers don’t receive any education on leadership, training, coaching or budgets, which leads to mistakes and missed revenue goals. It’s the classic assumption that great leaders are born, not developed.
My goal is to make you a topnotch sales leader and recognize what’s often NOT taught to new sales managers that affect consistent sales revenues. Here are five common mistakes made in sales management due to lack of education.
#1: Ineffective sales goals or quotas. Too often, sales managers take the one-size-fits-all quota approach, which kills motivation for their sales teams. The salesperson doesn’t understand or believe he can achieve quota because there is no analysis of territory, rep tenure or competition. Every salesperson gets a 15 percent increase over last year’s sales quota. The reality is some salespeople deserve a 40 percent increase and others may deserve only 7 percent.
#2: Poor feedback skills. When you sign up for sales leadership, you sign up for the development of your sales team’s habits, attitudes and selling skills. It’s no longer about your success; it’s about the sales team’s success. Sales management involves providing feedback, some of which a salesperson may not want to hear. Conflict-avoidant sales managers avoid giving feedback and holding truth-telling sales conversations. They build everything-is-OK-sales cultures. As a result, the sales manager and team settle into comfort zones, mediocrity and status quo selling behaviors.
The result is slow growth or no growth, and an open invitation for your competitor.
#3: Ineffective coaching and training. It’s time to apply the emotional intelligence skill of reality testing, which is seeing things for what they are rather than how you’d like them to be. The reality is you can’t coach and train without a sales playbook. Imagine a college football coach yelling out plays that no player knows how to execute. Ms. or Mr. sales manager, documentation of the sales playbook is your responsibility. And how many of you really like documenting selling steps and stages, value propositions, objections and responses, diagnostic questions, referral strategies, outbound scripts and more? You don’t have to do it yourself — there are plenty of sales consultants that can help.
But you do have to do it.
#4: Bad sales meetings. Weekly sales meetings often are just report meeting covering sales pipelines and metrics. Hello — your sales team can read reports. The reason for missed forecasts is because no time or energy is focused on providing education to help your team create qualified sales pipelines, and to close more and better deals.
#5: Lack of emotional intelligence. Good sales managers possess the emotional intelligence skill of self-awareness and other awareness. These soft skills are built by paying attention to every sales conversation. With today’s technology, many sales managers lack the emotional intelligence to be fully present during each sales conversation because they’re fiddling with their phones. They demonstrate fake attention and as a result, miss the many nonverbal clues in a coaching conversation.
For example, when a salesperson states, “I forgot to ask, set an expectation,” what they are saying is, “I’m not comfortable doing…” Because the sales manager lacks other awareness, they miss a coaching opportunity, one where they work on the real challenge, not the presenting challenge.
Avoid the five common sales leadership mistakes and grow consistent, sustainable revenues. Your company and sales team are counting on you.