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 Management

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