Seven Mistakes That May Prevent You from Becoming the Perfect Sales Manager

sales-leadershipHave you ever seen a job posting that says, “Wanted: Narcissistic Sales Manager?” It probably isn’t surprising that this isn’t a trait that most organizations look for in their sales managers.

What may surprise you is how many sales managers are described with this exact word by their sales teams.

Despite what a frustrated sales rep might tell you when provoked, skilled sales managers are required for organizational growth and change that is sustainable. Unfortunately, managers sometimes make sales coaching mistakes that cause issues for their team members and the company as a whole. Here are seven of the most common of these errors to look for:

1. Treating Each Rep the Same

Your 60-something rep who tells war stories from the Eisenhower administration probably has quite different working views and styles than the new rapidly-tweeting Millennial you have just hired for your sales department. Similarly, different reps on your team will have varying levels of ability. A good manager will understand which reps need and are capable of receiving coaching and will then focus on training those reps, instead of trying to apply a one-size-fits-all training approach to the department at large.

2. Presenting Obscure or Confusing Goals

Your sales reps must be aware of their personal and company goals. The best sales coaching professionals will make sure that their team members know what their weekly, monthly, and quarterly sales revenue goals are. They will also keep reps clued-in to other objectives that need to be met, such as number of discovery calls or presentations made in a specific week. The most effective coaches align the rep’s personal and professional goals to the activities and productivity elements that will help them accomplish their goals.

3. Not Providing Enough Feedback

One of the most obvious signs of a good manager is one who frequently lets their team members know how they are doing. Sales reps should know how they are doing and how they can improve, which will help them sharpen their skills and do a better job of selling. The worst managers are ones who wait for infrequent official performance reviews to talk to their team about how they are doing and what needs to change. Feedback also needs to be provided based on the results of the rep’s efforts and how the client responds to them, not the activity.

4. Getting Complacent

While it might be nice for reps to deal with sales managers who don’t challenge them and who are willing to accept everything at face value, but the best managers will come up with effective, professional ways to push their reps to the next level. By identifying each rep’s strengths and weaknesses and helping them work on these and improve, sales managers will be able to more frequently get high levels of performance out of their team.

5. Pointing Fingers

A sales manager, who likes to point the finger at his or her team at the drop of a hat, is likely to generate a few other fingers aimed back in their direction.

In sports, there is a saying: players win, and coaches lose. When things are going well, sales managers should certainly get some credit, but they also need to be sure that they are giving enough recognition to the individual sales reps who make success possible. By the same token, when things are bad, sales managers need to step up to the plate and see what they can do to fix things.

6. Not Listening Enough

Not listening is one of the common problems seen among sales reps, but managers have it as well. Too many sales managers try to force a particular habit or style of sales coaching onto their reps without taking the time to consider the response. If a certain rep doesn’t take well to a particular tactic, they might be best suited for a different strategy, but many managers lose patience and simply give up on the rep in question.

7. Not Looking to Change and Grow

All industries and professions change: if you aren’t adapting, you will quickly find that you aren’t as effective as you could be. This holds true for sales managers as well: managers need to be sure that they are keeping in tune with what the latest developments and trends are in the field of sales management so that they can do the best possible job of managing their team.

Above all, sales coaching is valuable for individual reps, the sales manager, and the health of the organization as a whole. By creating a culture that is more “other-centered” and less “self-centered”, you establish an environment open to collectively getting better.

ASLAN for Life: Being a leader of others requires being a servant for others.

As VP of Solutions, Sean’s passion is developing and creating a learning experience that emotionally taps into each learner, matches ASLAN’s commitment to excellence, and exceeds our client’s wildest expectations. Find him on: LinkedIn.

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