Research has shown that at least half of all managers fail in their job. It’s even higher in sales. Why? Higher risks come with higher rewards. You’ve heard it said that sales are both the most challenging and least lucrative work. It is also true for sales management.
What makes sales managers and executives fail? What does it mean to forget? Failure is when sales fall short of the goals. You might not be meeting your goals, but your sales results could be declining. Here are some examples. A sales manager that I knew approached me and said that he had “lighted a fire under his team.” I replied, “How did you do it?” He explained that he had told them in a meeting that if they didn’t sell X number of units by the end of the month, they would be fired. That’s an excellent motivational speech. He was just kidding. Guess who got fired? He was.
Another example is a sales manager who was known for his toughness and uncompromising approach. He was a great leader, but he had a tendency to be unable to achieve his goals. He was fired after a few years. The results were phenomenal after a new sales manager was hired. No matter what style you have, there are seven fatal mistakes sales leaders make. Which ones do you think fit?
Seven Deadly Errors: How to Avoid These Mistakes
1. Focus on obstacles and not objectives
Sales leaders often forget to set clear expectations, goals, and plans. This is a crucial prerequisite for high performance. You will see better performance if you set goals for the team and each rep individually. These goals and plans should be reviewed regularly.
2. Lack of Accountability
This is something that many managers talk about when referring to the sales team. The truth is, as Harry Truman stated, “The buck stops at here.” The sales manager is ultimately responsible for the results. There are no excuses. It’s not acceptable to complain about the economy, customers, or competition or blame upper management. This is the old adage: “If you want people to be more successful, you must be better.”
3. Manufactured Lack of Training
Sales reps face high rejection rates and are at risk of failure. They need ongoing training and support to keep their wins. Too many managers don’t provide any training or only offer an annual session at year-end. The best sales managers have the best trainers. This includes one-on-one and group training with role-playing and practice. This should be done every week.
4. Manufacture of coaching is lacking
You can’t find a manager when your need one. Poor sales managers are unable to produce reports from behind a computer. You need to be able to analyze results, but you also need to coach. Coaching should be a top priority. Be a great coach. Do one-on-one coaching in your office. Learn how to use email and phone coaching.
5. Set low standards
It is unacceptable to dwell on mediocrity in today’s world. You are doomed not to communicate what you want and to coach your team to desire it more. Compare your industry to see what the best are doing. Then set your standards high. Imagine Bill Belichick and Vince Lombardi telling their teams to have a winning season. It is not enough just to win a few sales.
6. Only recognize the best performers
You can offer any incentives to glory the top performers may need. All other people may win at some point. Everybody needs a daily pat on the back. As a sales leader, your job is to help your team achieve greater heights than they ever imagined. One way to accomplish this is to praise your team for their efforts or make improvements. Praise everyone genuinely.
7. No Innovation
People who lack creativity in leadership style end up doing business the same way every day. My experience with sales teams is that they work hard and long hours. You put so much effort into your sales team; why not have fun? We knew a manager who asked each rep individually what they wanted to buy. The manager then gave each rep goals to achieve in the quarter. They had a great quarter.
There are many other factors that can lead to failure. While it is possible to lose every day, sales managers who are the best are consistent in their efforts. They learn from their mistakes and improve every day. They listen to other people, attend seminars and collaborate with their team to improve their game. They learn from the best and work hard to be better sales leaders.