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Sales Management Mistakes

February 21, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how many Sales Management Mistakes can be made by small business and medium size businesses. How many times have you heard that “I just can’t find good sales people?” Is it because Sales Management is spending its time growing the business instead of trying to grow the Sales People.  Here are a just a few of the Mistakes that I have seen.

  1.  The CEO/Owner acts as the sales Manager – Being an effective sales manager is more than a full time job.  There are enough operational and financial issues in which a CEO / Owner has to manage than being the Sales Manager.  How valuable is your company when you are the chief rainmaker?  Close to 0. 
  2. Not Sharing the Company Vision and Values with Sales Representatives – Realize that 53% of sales people are turned over every year.  Time and time again, I see companies hire sales people and tell them just sell.  Yes, they give them some training, but they do not give them the Message and Vision of “Why?”  For a great explanation of this watch this video “How Great Leaders Inspire Action?”
  3. Promoting your top Sales Producer – All the great qualities that make someone a great producer usually are contrary to making a great sales manager.  Because they have been successful in the way that they do it, they cannot understand why everyone else does not do it their way.  Top Producers have a tendency to sell for their sales representatives, and not coach, teach and help their representatives succeed. 
  4. Allowing Sales Superstars to Get out of Control – There is a general fear of the Top Producer.  They therefore gain a sense of entitlement and frequently lose the support of their teammates. This sometimes causes turnover in other departments as well as teammates sabotaging the superstar and the entire company’s success. Respect for all individuals, their roles, and that this is a team effort is an extremely important message to give. 
  5. Not Utilizing and Understanding the Sales Process – The Sales Process is a map, NOT a railroad track.  Sometimes one goes off the road and comes back on.  In most businesses either there is no sales process at all or the process is like a railroad track.  You can get on the track, but don’t ever veer off.  Sales is creative, and not always black and white.  One needs a map, but not a rail. 
  6. Hiring the Wrong Sales Person – Most companies hire for experience, and fire later because of attitude. This is because companies are reluctant to train, and want an immediate ROI on the sales person.  Hire people based on motivations and behaviors.  If they are motivated, they will learn the business quickly.   
  7. Not using available assessment tools for Hiring and Motivation – Yes most sales people are bottom line and commission oriented.  However, that is not their only driver.  Some want to grow to other positions.  Some love to learn and get bored by selling the same thing over and over.  Other sales people may be motivated by things related to the social good.  Understand them and help fulfill their motivations besides commissions. I have been using the TTI Performance Systems assessments and find them to be great tools. 
  8. Not Holding the Sales Representatives Accountable – Sales people have to have numbers to go by.  Not just revenue goals, but new business developed, appointments made, size of accounts.  This gives them a clear direction.  Yet Sales Management has to develop these goals with them and not arbitrarily assigned.  Then the rebellious sales person will not buy into it, nor will they attain the goals.    
  9. Making the Sales People into Customer Service and Clerical Help – Keep the sales people hunting and closing new deals.  When they get involved too much on the Customer Service side, they stop hunting.  This is not only bad for generating revenue; it does not help sell the benefits of doing business with the company team.  If the salesperson is the only contact then when they leave the business goes with them. 
  10. Using a CRM, but NOT utilizing the Reports and available information – It is absolutely amazing the great tools that are available like Salesforce, Zoho, and ACT.  Most people use technology to about 5% of its actual capability.  Sales Management does not take the time.  If sales management and sales reps just take the time to understand the full capabilities of these programs it will save a lot of time, trouble, and improve the communications throughout the company. 
6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2012 4:57 pm

    Great post. Thanks. We,(Rapid Sales Success) discovered that literally, sales people get no respect, and that includes sales management. The major thought is that anyone who has an exroverted personality can make it in sales, if you add in some social graces, and somewhat good English.
    Not understanding that there is a technology to selling finds businesses going through sales consultants like tissue paper. Not having senior managements unwavering support when training does occur, just keeps sales mentally sidelined waiting for the next big innovation, or when the CEO happens to read that latest, greatest book on sales and marketing.
    Oddly, almost every CEO knows that without sales and marketing there is no revenue, but that rarely jolts anyone into meaningful action – sustainable action. The attitudes about sales and sales people, and sales managers has, sadly, infected the troops themselves, as well. So, we all putter along accepting that 15% or lower close ratio, and constanly bleeding people.
    One day someone strolls in from some unknown company, and gets the CEO to actually see what that trunover robs from the bottom line, but even with cold hard facts we all seem to be somewhat apathetic about it all. We look at it as the cost of doing business.
    Alan, you and I both know, this is simply not true.

    Joe Caulfield
    rapidsalessuccess.com

  2. February 21, 2012 5:30 pm

    Thanks Joe for your comments. Some very good points.

  3. February 21, 2012 7:40 pm

    Almost every business owner I know, needs help in the marketing and sales arena. And you are right, CEO’s have to own the process’s. It can not be the business book du jour. There are so many interlocking pieces and departments these days, and if those are not aligned properly, the sales person is doomed to fail.

    Thanks Allan good stuff.

  4. February 19, 2013 4:33 am

    It’s an remarkable piece of writing for all the web visitors; they will take benefit from it I am sure.

    • February 19, 2013 6:30 am

      Thanks for your comment “Business Owner”. A Business owner needs to work inside out. This means first look at what you are doing, and either ask or analyze what affects you are having. For me, it is almost impossible to look at myself and get the right answers. Your employees have agendas, which cloud the issue. Best is to either have trusted peers, a qualified HR person, or a coach to help analyze your particular situation to make sure that there is a totally objective opinion.

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