Sales Management: The 7 Most Common (And Expensive) Mistakes Organisations Make When Creating The Role

By | August 15, 2008
    1. Let’s get the hoary old chestnut out of the way first. Promoting the best salesperson in the team to be its manager. Sometimes works, more often doesn’t. Few companies actually think about the (different) competencies required to be a sales manager, they just hope ‘some of the magic rubs off’.
    2. Sales managers need to be full time managers, not having their own target. Their primary success measure should be the achievement of results through other people. If they have their own target as well, this comes first, for credibility reasons and simple motivational ones as well. Some organisations compound the problem by incentivising them more around the individual target than the team one. The reason most often given about why Sales Managers have their own target is that ‘full time managers can’t be afforded’. This contains a significant logic failure. They could be managing up to 6 salespeople part time, all achieving less than they could if they had a full-time sales manager, motivating, coaching and generally supporting their own sales efforts.
    3. Sales mangers being allowed to earn bonus on the aggregate performance of their sales teams. This allows them to carry under performers because the stars of the team over perform. All salespeople should be at a minimum 100% before their sales manager start earning (potentially significant) bonuses.
    4. Not paying a larger enough salary differential between the first-line sales manager and salespeople. The job has to carry real meaning; often salespeople don’t want the job because they can easily out-earn the management position on offer.
    5. Not giving sufficient decision rights/authority to the incumbent. The number of sales managers who are really senior salespeople with a title is significant. Everybody loses, the sales director looks like a control freak, the managers are undermined and the salespeople become cynical about who can make the decisions.
    6. Allowing new sales managers too much time too sort out under performing team members. We often hear of 6 months being given ‘while I review things and get to know the people’. Hopeless. In their first week (the year’s slipping by) the sales manager should ask for a review of all performance, the meeting driven by each individual. The manager simply listens at this stage, perhaps ask a few probing questions. If the poor performance is due to non-business related issues (personal stuff, health etc.), offer appropriate support. For business related short falls, ask for a timed action plan to get the performance back on track. Depending on the size of shortfall, set up progress review meetings, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Implement any required support, resource input etc. to underpin the plan. Expect an improvement in the next meaningful cycle, if there is none; increase the focus, moving towards more remedial strategies.
    7. Not insisting or designing the job to be field based. Sales managers should be in the field at least 50% of the time. The rest can be in the office/home. Only quantities and conversion rates can be monitored at a distance, QUALITY of activity can only be observed.

    We hope you don’t suffer any of the above. Structured Training not only deliver industry leading Sales Management courses, but can also help with designing effective roles, and performance coaching sales managers to higher levels of success.

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