I find it interesting that when I search the internet for articles on sales the focus is generally on the sales person and not the manager. I do appreciate the importance for sales people to improve their sales skills but who is improving the manager? Let’s look at what I believe are the top 10 sales manager mistakes:
1. The Sales Manager/Account Rep who has to wear two hats. To be a successful sales manager you must be a manager of your people and focused on their success. If they succeed, you succeed. Give up the account rep role even if it is a plum account. You can still be involved with the account but you should be there to support or help close for your rep.
2. The Let Me Sell Sales Manager; a great Sales Person does not always mean a great Sales Manager. Some of the most successful sales people I have met over the years were the best closers. Aggressive, talkative and very social. However, many of these people when moved to a managers role began to fail. Why? Because they spent their career focused on their success. It is very difficult to turn that switch off. It requires EI, Emotional Intelligence. I believe a measure of a persons EI is nurtured over the years and also has to do with how they are wired. In other words, they are naturally empathetic and care about the success of others.
3. The I Can Do But Can’t Teach Sales manager; a great sales manager must be a great sales trainer. Too often I see sales managers who are great communicators but don’t know how to reverse engineer what they do to teach others. Send them off to a seminar or get additional training outside the company is their mantra. My suggestion is for this sales manager to get some training on how to train.
4. The Ivory Tower Sales Manager is the manger who is not accessible. They have the “I’ve made it” attitude and hide away in their big office sending emails and planning golf games and taking trips. Sure the sales manager needs to do this but not if their objective is get as many perks out of the job as possible. In other words, their rep or the reps client could care less if they were there or not and in fact, would prefer if they were not there because it is effecting the nurturing of the relationship started by the rep.
5. The Harping Sales Manager is the person who never upgrades their experience and knowledge of sales and is stuck in an old school mentality. They believe if they answer any question with a standard response or sales management spin or use a strong arm bully approach this will work on their reps. All this does is churn out sales reps causing a low retention rate and from the outside looking in, your clients and prospects don’t want to work with a company that can’t even keep employees or keep them happy.
6. The Sales Manager With “I” Problems is the person who takes credit for all the teams successes and passes mistakes and failures onto their team or an individual. If you want to be a leader, a sales manager, then you must take responsibility publicly for all failures and pass the accolades onto your team. The respect you will garner from your team will be inspirational and they will climb the highest mountains for you to make you proud of them. In some respects you are assuming the role of a parent and they are the child. Your vocabulary should then change from “I” to “We” or “Them”. Try it and see how good it feels.
7. The Grunter Sales Manager is the person who never listens to his reps and shows their lack of interest in many ways. For example; they keep working on their computer with their head down responding with a grunt on occasion. When a rep has a problem, stop what you are doing and listen. Now I know we need to manage by effort but if they are in your office then we must assume you gave them permission to enter and therefore speak to you, so listen to them.
8. The Talker Sales Manager is the person who loves to hear his own voice and never truly listens to his reps. “Seek first to understand before being understood” is Stephen Covey’s 5th principle from his book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This essentially means we need to listen with our ears and our heart. We need to connect by understanding the other persons view point before having them understand our view point. Listen, but NOT with the intent to respond. Which means don’t be deaf because you are thinking only about what you are going to say next.
9. The MBA Sales Manager is the person with very little real life experience but has a wealth of education that abounds with theory. I pity the reps with this person. This sales manager answers every problem with a book answer. Throw the book away and get some real sales experience under your belt.
10. The Numbers Guy Sales Manager is the person who tries to manage the rep by the Statistics but has no clue on how to interpret the numbers. In the old days maybe a poor rep could be motivated to work harder by the numbers but reps are smarter and more educated today. One thing we all know about stats is they can be interpreted to mean what ever we want to say. As sales managers we do need to be on top of the numbers but don’t use them as a big stick to get your reps to work harder. The numbers should be used to isolate problem areas in your sales process unique to the individual and the team. Then once isolated you work together to fix the weakness.