Top 7 Reasons Sales Managers Fail

Have you been scratching your head wondering why your sales team is not hitting revenue goals? Do you feel like you’re doing everything you can and giving it your all a manager but are not getting consistent results? Read on to determine if you are a product of these 7 reasons sales managers fail:

1. Inability to Transfer Skills

Sales managers often move into a sales management role because of their ability to identify and win business. Unfortunately, your great selling skills are of no use or value to the organization if you can’t transfer these selling skills to your team.

In the words of Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, “When you take on a leadership role, it’s no longer about you, it’s about them.” In other words, it doesn’t matter how good you are, it only matters how good you can make the individuals on your sales team.

2. White House Syndrome

It’s easy for sales managers to catch this disease and lose touch with reality. (How much is a carton of milk?) Sales managers start camping out in the “white house” (the corporate office), getting caught up in the minutia of reports, meetings and firefighting. They forget the real reason they were hired as a sales manager: to train and coach their sales team to the highest level of performance. This isn’t accomplished in the “white house.”

Training and coaching are accomplished by riding with your sales team and calling on the real world – your prospects and clients. The cushy chair in corporate is more comfortable; the car seat is always more profitable.

3. Field manager, Corporate Manager, All-Around Manager

In my former corporate world, I had seven sales managers reporting to me and quickly figured out there were three types: field manager, corporate manager and all-around manager.

Field managers stand staunchly by their team, defend all actions and refuse to understand or endorse corporate objectives. The corporate manager is interested only in moving up the corporate ladder, leaving their sales team without a voice in the corporation. The all-around manager gets it. They achieve the hard balance of presenting the sales team’s issues to senior management while communicating and enforcing corporate objectives to their sales team.

The field manager enjoys a lot of love and limited growth, the corporate manager builds a sales culture of distrust, and the all-around manager grows leaders, profits and companies.

4. No Tough Love

When you accept the role of sales manager, you accept the responsibility of growing people as well as profits. A great sales manager is similar to a great parent. Good parents set expectations of behavior and character for their children, and hold their kids accountable to those expectations. They understand they’re not in a popularity contest and refuse to accept excuses or cave in to comments such as, “none of the other kids’ moms expect them to…..”

Great sales managers set clear expectations for their sales team and don’t cave when the sales team pushes back on standards of excellence. They put aside their need to be liked for the need to be respected. They understand that tough love creates high-performance sales cultures.

5. No Duplicable Sales Process

The example I use is of an athletic coach and their playbook. An NFL coach always has a playbook and requires each player to study, learn and execute the plays.

The professional football player isn’t allowed to run their own playbook, regardless of the number of years they’ve been playing ball. Sales managers, on the other hand, often lack a playbook and give the excuse, “Well, I hire people with sales experience.” The result is a sales manager trying to manage 20 different playbooks filled with old and ineffective plays.

6. Lack of Prospecting

Sales managers must prospect; however, the target changes. Instead of prospecting for business, sales managers must be consistently prospecting for top sales talent. A mistake often made by sales managers is looking for top talent in crisis mode, after someone on their team has been fired, resigns or moves.

The pressure of hitting a sales quota results in sales managers settling for a second-best candidate and expecting first-rate sales results. Great sales managers prospect monthly for top talent to keep their people pipeline full.

7. Sales Team is Stroke-Deprived and Fun-Deprived

High-driving types often land in the position of sales manager because of their ability to achieve goals. They don’t need a lot of strokes and are very results-oriented. The problem is that high-driving sales managers are managing salespeople who have a high need for recognition, interaction and fun.

The unsuccessful sales manager doesn’t realize their new sales activity plan includes giving strokes and pats on the back, creating recognition programs and setting up events to hit the fun quota.

Good Selling!

Colleen Stanley is the founder and president of SalesLeadership, Inc. She is a monthly columnist for national Business Journals, author of ‘Growing Great Sales Teams’ and co-author of ‘Motivational Selling.’ Prior to starting SalesLeadership, Colleen was vice president of sales and marketing for Varsity Spirit Corporation. During her 10 years at Varsity, sales increased from 8M to 90M.

She is the creator of the EI Selling System™, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative sales skills. Training and consulting services offered are:
• Benchmarking, Selection and Hiring of Top Sales Talent
• Consultative Sales Training
• Leadership Training for Sales Managers
• Major Account Sales
• Prospecting and Referral Training
• Sales Compensation
• Territory Management
• Customer Relationship Managemen

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Top 7 Reasons Sales Managers Fail

Why Sales Superstars May Not Become Sales Management Superstars – 10 Qualities of Top Sales Managers

The following job promotion ritual is repeated in numerous sales organizations every year:

Step 1: A sales management position is vacant due to growth, attrition, or the dismissal of an existing sales manager; Step 2: The top sales representative in the organization (or department) is selected to fill the vacancy; Step 3: The top salesperson doesn’t like to (or is unable to) manage the sales performance of other individuals, so he keeps focused on personal selling initiatives, but in doing so, is failing in his role as sales manager; Step 4: The cycle repeats itself.

Although sales representatives and sales managers both work within the realm of selling, many of the strengths required for success in the roles of sales manager differ than the strengths required for success in the role of sales person. Therefore, few top-performing salespeople will become top-performing sales managers. This is important to know if you’re looking to hire a new sales manager in your company, and you expect this individual to be successful filling that role.

This isn’t a phenomenon that’s unique to selling. There are many highly-skilled and successful physicians, for example who are unable to effectively manage a staff of other physicians. There are many prized athletes who are not able to successfully coach a team of other athletes. There are skilled kitchen designers, plumbers, and attorneys who are unable to manage respective groups of other kitchen designers, plumbers, and attorneys.

Before I offer support for my thesis, allow me to confess that there are two situations where I will not argue with the individual who says the top salesperson in an organization will become a successful sales manager:

(1) The first is where where the new sales manager retains the responsibility for personally generating sales revenue. This individual is, in effect, either a part-time sales manager, or a sales manager in title only; (2) The second is when the sales manager’s role is to be almost exclusively a rain-maker (a generator of new business opportunities). That is a selling role that some sales managers play, but it is not a management role per se.

The following is a list of strengths (skills) that are required to achieve phenomenal success as the manager of a sales team (or any team, for that matter). However, none of these skills are substantially required for phenomenal success in front-line selling. This doesn’t mean that a top sales performer will never be a top sales management performer, but it means that the strengths required to fill the two roles are substantially different.

Strength #1. Delegating.
The sales manager certainly cannot do the front-line sales activity for his entire sales group himself. Meeting a sales quota requires the contribution of all members of the sales team. The successful sales manager must possess the ability to delegate responsibility to others so the group can achieve its goals. Delegating is quite a different skill than, say, closing skill, which is required of top sales performers, but the skill of delegation is not a skill which is typically required for top sales performance.

Strength #2. Willing to give up the top spot.
Top sales performers who become sales managers must be entirely willing to give up the position of top performer in a sales organization. For those who can’t, disaster awaits. Sales managers must be willing and able to put their top salespeople on pedestals so their egos can be adequately fed, while also keeping their own egos in check for the sake of the advancement of their team. In a larger organization there is still opportunity for competition between several or many sales managers, but a top sales manager has to be able to point to his top performer and give her credit for being the top salesperson in his group. He also has to encourage other non-top-performers to become top-performers. Since many salespeople have been ego-driven in their successful sales careers, this transition from achiever to encourager is critical. The skill of allowing someone else to be the top dog is not a skill required for success in selling, and in fact, can be antithetical to it. Many sales managers who have previously been a top sales performer who have been driven throughout his entire career to achieve “pedestal” status will not work tirelessly to put another individual on this same pedestal.

Strength #3. Focusing on others.
Sales management requires an outward focus on others’ sales performance, whereas successful selling requires an inward focus on one’s own sales performance. Being in control of your own sales is one thing; but it’s impossible to be in control of an entire team’s sales. Therefore, a loss of direct control of the sale is required in favor of a focus on the sales manager’s team members.

Strength #4. Supervising.
Sale managers must possess front-line supervisory skills. They need to know how and when to step in to discipline or change behaviors in an employee. They must possess wisdom about when to support subordinates versus when to discipline them. Top sales performers do not need supervisory skills to achieve top dog status.

Strength #5. Managing.
The key skill of the manager is to utilize every subordinate’s special strengths to achieve the goals of the sales group. Weaknesses in employees exist, but assembling a group of team members who have strengths in the right areas, and knowing how to put those strengths to work, is not required of top sales performers. It is, however, required of sales managers who wish to achieve top sales performance. These management concepts are described by Marcus Buckingham in his book “The One Thing You Need to Know About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success” (Simon & Schuster, 2005).

Strength #6. Coaching, training, mentoring.
Successful sales managers should be able to coax salespeople to improved performance, both in one-on-one coaching events and in classroom training environments. Although there may be some of these elements present in all selling top performers, these elements are crucial for top sales management performance.

Strength #7. Leading.
According to Marcus Buckingham, again in “The One Thing You Need to Know,” successful leaders have two key attributes: (1) They have the ability to create a vision for the future; and (2) They have the ability to get subordinates lined up within this vision, so that individuals’ efforts will support, and not hamper, the group’s progress. Successful sales managers have these leadership attributes. Leadership skill is not required of top sales performers.

Strength #8. Filtering directives.
The sales manager will receive many directives from her superiors. To be effective, she must know when to filter out or adjust these directives, and when to take them on with reckless abandon. This is a delicate balance, and not knowing when to do which one can wreak havoc in a sales organization. The wisdom to know when to embrace upper-management directives, and when to subtly give them secondary attention, will help determine the success of the sales manager’s team, and therefore, the success of the sales manager.

Strength #9. Hiring and Firing.
Top-performing sales managers must make be able to accurately predict sales performance during the interviewing process, and must leverage that ability in their hiring of subordinates. Without this ability, sales performance will suffer. Top sales performers do not need this predictive skill. Successful sales manager must also know how and when to remove an employee from their team so that negative repercussions are minimized.

Strength #10. Deciding.
There’s no question that making good decisions is important in successful selling. But in a sales management role, all decisions are magnified because each decision affects more than one individual. The sales manager’s decisions affect an entire staff of sales professionals and their customers. This means decision-making skills are vital for the sales manager.

There are many skills required for sales success. Among them are the ability to prospect and create business opportunities, the ability to identify prospects’ needs, and ability to close the sale. But the sales management qualities listed above are not substantially required for individual selling success.

While there’s some overlap between the required skill of the peak-performing sales manager and the peak-performing sales person, here’s my advice: if you’re looking for a sales manager who will succeed, hire one that possesses the strengths of a sales manager (those listed strengths above). Many peak-performing salespeople don’t possess those strengths

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why Sales Superstars May Not Become Sales Management Superstars – 10 Qualities of Top Sales Managers