In the work world, there are few more mission-critical relationships than the one between a manager and his or her direct reports. If this relationship is healthy, it drives success. It empowers your team and provides resources to get customers to trust your brand.
On the other hand ... when the relationship isn’t working, it poisons everything else.
A poor connection with the sales manager causes all kinds of negativity for sales reps:
- They may not be able to access the tools and training they need to drive results.
- It’s harder to communicate and get clarity on priorities, goals, and best practices.
- They have fewer opportunities to enjoy mentoring and aspire to true excellence.
- Every aspect of the job can become just that little bit more stressful to deal with.
All in all, a poor relationship with a superior is one of the biggest drivers of turnover. It’s even worse in the sales world because sales manager mistakes typically have a bigger direct impact than mistakes in other disciplines. They can cause deals to be lost or leads to never materialize.
Of course, everyone has to start somewhere in learning how to be a manager. If you keep an eye out for these common sales manager mistakes, you’ll be much closer to providing the quality leadership your team needs to really soar.
1. Failure to Coach and Develop Reps
Guidance, mentorship, encouragement, and inspiration are the ingredients of effective leadership. Without these, reps are more likely to see you as an obstacle than an ally.
One-on-one time spent together is powerful – instead of telling your reps what to do, teach them how to do it. Investing the time to understand each rep’s strengths and weaknesses shows you are all in it together.
2. Failure to Set a Clear Selling Process
A clear and consistent sales process benefits you, your reps, and the company in several ways:
- It accelerates your sales cycles, protecting you against B2B’s lengthening cycle times.
- It ensures you can zoom in on specific stages of the sales funnel to improve processes.
- It gives you the clarity necessary to assign meaningful goals and track useful metrics.
Many startup and early-stage companies don’t have a process map for selling. You can begin by understanding the three-stage buyer journey so sales can align with what prospective buyers are thinking.
Sales teams should also understand buyer personas, which help them come prepared with the right collateral for post-call follow-up, discovery sessions, and on-sites.
3. Poor Selection of Metrics or Goals
Accurate sales forecasting and good pipeline management go hand in hand. Forecasting can only be reliable when key sales performance metrics have been identified and reliably tracked for some time. Naturally, systems have to be in place to capture that data.
If you’re not satisfied with your sales forecasting yet, the best way to uplevel is with a customer relationship management (CRM) suite. A CRM will illuminate the data from all of your sales touches as it flows in, helping you see what’s important while events unfold.
With a quarter of data from your CRM, you can start to recognize some key issues:
- How long does the buyer journey take each customer on average?
- How many times did sales reps follow up to land successful deals?
- What part of the buyer journey takes leads the longest to complete?
All of these connect to real interventions sales managers can make with their team. Plus, this short list only scratches the surface of valuable questions you can ask – and answer – with the data from your CRM suite. To get started with your suite, we suggest the free HubSpot CRM.
4. Too Much Focus on Selling
A sales manager shouldn’t think too much about selling ... what?
Here’s the key: As the manager, you’re the strategic force multiplier for your entire team. One of the biggest sales manager mistakes is to keep producing deals instead of focusing on all the ways you can lead and coach your people.
As a general rule, you should stop handling sales accounts within two quarters of becoming a sales manager. Use that lead-up time to train someone new on the ins and outs of key accounts you interact with. That way, they can build goodwill before taking the reins.
As a sales manager, you set the tone for your whole organization. There’s a crucial balance to be struck between the day to day detail work of “management” and inspirational “leadership.” Likewise, data can guide your efforts, but only hands-on coaching and mentoring can enable your people to take advantage of what that data says about them.
Avoid these four killer mistakes and you’ll be on your way to a lasting legacy as a sales manager: Building your reports so they, too, can take the next step.