Sales Management Gone Wrong: 7 Mistakes to Avoid
Do you know what it takes to lead your sales organization to success?
The stakes of poor sales management are high. Not only do management mishaps reflect poorly on your performance, they also have a direct and tangible effect on your company’s bottom line.
One poor-performing salesperson may need a guiding hand. But when your whole team is missing the mark, that might be an indicator that something is wrong with the current approach to sales management.
In this article, we will examine some of the biggest sales management mistakes.
1. Lack of training and knowledge about the product or service
Not all salespeople will grasp the technical ends of the products or services they are selling. If you don’t provide them with adequate training on these aspects, they will be unprepared to answer prospects’ questions.
Having no answer, or worse, providing the wrong answer to your prospects’ questions will not give them much confidence in your product, service, or company, and may cause your lead to cool.
Ensuring your sales team knows your product or service inside before they start interacting with customers is crucial. Thoroughly understanding the product will help them to sell the benefits and not just the features. Sales managers must, therefore, devise engaging and meaningful training which will ensure the salesperson learns quickly and effectively.
It’s equally important for the sales manager to have a firm grasp of the business and the product/service. A new manager who starts changing the team’s strategy before they fully understand the business will experience great difficulty providing proper guidance and setting realistic targets.
2. Lack of communication between management and the team
More than 74% of sales managers admit they have poor communication skills, according to the Sales Benchmark Index.
Poor communication has a serious ripple effect in sales organizations. It creates a divide between the manager and the team, which inevitably leads to miscommunications with prospects.
For a salesperson to properly do their job, it’s integral to ensure they have all of the relevant information.
Beyond information sharing, poor communication often indicates larger sales management issues. If a manager doesn’t communicate adequately, it usually indicates that the team does not have well-defined protocols and are unwilling to share information. The consequences could range from errors in reporting to mistrust to lost deals.
3. Poor onboarding to your CRM
One solution to ensure proper communication and organization with your team is to deploy a CRM platform for salespeople to share information about prospects and customers.
Viewing the entire customer journey and monitoring all of your company’s interactions with a customer is a fundamental sales management practice. Utilizing a CRM platform to display this information in one centralized location enables the sales team to have this complete picture.
However, CRM systems are vast warehouses of information, and they can be difficult to navigate. If you don’t provide your team proper software onboarding, they will be unable to maximize the full breadth of your CRM’s capabilities and subsequently lose out on key opportunities.
Training on your CRM must be viewed as a continual effort, not a one-and-done event. To get the most out of a CRM, you should take a proactive approach to training — one that uses on-demand support and interactive guidance tools.
4. Setting the wrong metrics and not monitoring progress
Setting sales metrics is another fundamental part of sales management. In addition to setting realistic metrics, you must also design a process to effectively track them.
Accurately monitoring sales metrics will enable you to evaluate your team’s performance, as well as guide decisions for the future.
The problem for sales managers is not too little information, but often too much. Understanding which data to track and how is an essential sales management practice. The cost of failing to do this effectively includes missing trends and missing out on opportunities.
5. Holding your reps to unrealistic targets and incentives
Your sales reps need ambitious but achievable goals. While it’s good to aim high, setting up your reps to continuously miss their targets will end up making them feel unmotivated and disengaged.
Sales managers also need to understand how incentives influence motivation and performance.
While incentives are a proven way to promote enthusiasm, they need to be pitched correctly. They should be used to generate hard work and dedication, and not to be achieved through short-cuts or wrongdoing.
6. Misalignment between sales and marketing
Taking an active approach to ensuring marketing and sales are working together optimally is vital. Marketing should pass on all of the leads they generate in a timely fashion. Sales then needs to follow up on these leads with the right information and approach in order to seize every possible opportunity.
If there is a disconnect in this chain, sales will either feel like they are receiving bad leads or not enough of them. Marketing, on the other hand, may think that sales isn’t following up on the leads quickly enough and the pipeline is drying up. On the other hand, a Vantage Point study found that with effectively managed pipelines, revenues grew 15% faster.
Open communication lines are also vital in keeping sales and marketing aligned. For this, a well managed CRM will be the cornerstone, giving both sales and marketing a unified view of the complete pipeline.
7. Fearing failure
Fearing failure is natural, but letting it influence your sales management approach too much will prevent you from taking necessary risks and optimizing your strategy.
Managers often fear failure because their team’s shortcomings are usually seen as a reflection on them — at least partially. However, failure doesn’t have to have such negative connotations. From every failure, you can always learn something.
A manager who continually fears failure will inhibit growth and development. Mistakes will happen as people learn, but it is how we learn from these mistakes that are the mark of a good sales manager.
Sales management done right — your key to success
Your sales management model has a direct impact on the success of the sales organization — on the business and individual level.
By taking measures to avoid some of the biggest management mishaps, you can ensure you provide adequate support, training, and incentives to achieve the best results.