Photo of John Green
sales manager mistakes

4 Common Mistakes Sales Managers Make

sales manager mistakes

Sales managers have a difficult job.

It’s their responsibility to push salespeople forward, and to achieve the company’s overall sales goals. That means managing on both an individual… and a team level. It requires a unique set of skills, organizational abilities, and of course, inspirational abilities.

It’s a lot to manage, so naturally mistakes are made.

Here are some common sales manager mistakes, the results of these mistakes, and how to fix (or avoid) them to improve performance and efficiency.

Trying to Do the Selling

Great salespeople often evolve into sales managers. So they share similar mindsets and motivations as the people on their team. This can be a problem because, as a sales manager, selling is no longer the primary task.  Leading is.

A sales manager is effective when the team is selling effectively… so while it’s  tempting to jump into a sales call when you see a salesperson having trouble (after all, you know you can close it quickly), it’s not the right course of action.

Jumping in and trying to sell can demoralize sales reps. They’ll feel like they’re not good enough, plus, they won’t be able to learn from their mistakes.

Sales reps should be allowed to make mistakes, but there should processes in place – recording and analytics evaluation for example – that give managers the ability to assess problems and training gaps, and respond accordingly.

Hiring the Wrong People

You can be the greatest teacher of sales in the world, but if you’re teaching the wrong people, it won’t do you much good.

So, how do you hire great salespeople? It comes down to a few important elements:

  • Don’t just rely on resumes. You need to account for personality, mindset, ability, and team fit.
  • Ask the right questions during the interview process – questions that give you insight into both ability as well as behavior/habits.
  • Compensate appropriately. That’s how you attract top quality talent. Figure out what a great salesperson is worth to you, and pay them appropriately.
  • Know when to end unsuccessful relationships

Letting Performance Issues Slide

Many new sales managers have a tendency to give salespeople the benefit of the doubt when they’re performing poorly. After all, everyone hits rough patches, right?

Right. But…

That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems that need to be addressed. And waiting to address them is a mistake. That sends the wrong message to both the struggling salesperson and the team at large.

A good sales manager looks into root causes of the problem, and identifies what the salesperson can do to address it. And what THEY can do to address it.

After all, sometimes an individual’s struggles are the result of a process that’s not efficient, a skill that hasn’t been taught, a tool that’s missing.

Not setting goals

It’s the sales manager’s role to measure team success… but salespeople should be able to gauge their success as well. That means there has to be a definition of what success is. That’s what goal setting is all about.

Goals don’t always have to be results based.

Effort based goals are important as well. Salespeople should know what’s expected of them in terms of dials, live conversations, follow-ups and other key metrics. This keeps them focused and motivated.

If you’re a sales manager, what are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made (and learned from)? If you’re a salesperson, what managerial mistakes have you come across in your career?