Tips for sales managers on how to destroy their team. Yes you read that correctly. For if we know how to do something wrong, then (hopefully) we stop doing it! In these uncertain times sales managers can not afford to fail. Especially those at the coal face, who are usually used to “coasting” and relying on past relationships.
However, we’ve seen it time and again: when the pressure goes up, good decision making goes down. When your sales team is doing well, you feel pressure from executives to maintain those figures. If your sales team is having some problems, executives pressure you to push your team towards higher performance.
We’ve been there and see in every day when our customers ask us to assess the sales team effectiveness. And we understand no sales manager is perfect. However, poor decisions on your part can snowball exponentially and have calamitous effects on your team and your company. It’s right in the toughest moments as a sales leaders, when you are in the thick of it, that you need to pay the most attention to your attitudes and decisions.
From our own time on the sales floor — and from working with hundreds of sales managers and organisation — here are the top four ways you can unwittingly destroy your sales team:
1. HIRE LAZY, UNMOTIVATED PEOPLE
The best salespeople are by nature extremely competitive. They constantly want to be the top producer and even if they have great relationships with other members of your sales team, at heart they want to outperform them. If you hire lazy people, you’re in for a world of trouble. Our clients regularly ask us to help them hire and before they make the offer we conduct a behavioural analysis on them to ensure that they are the right fit.
Lazy, Unmotivated People Don’t Do the Work
This is the kind of salesperson who spends most of their day behind a desk doing “admin” instead of being on the phone or meetings with potential clients. You may need to have salespeople who work best behind a desk, relentlessly making phone calls, hunting for new leads and setting up appointments. Lazy, unmotivated salespeople, however, don’t even bother to do this.
You will often find them hanging around the water cooler, talking about sports scores, their latest golf game, office gossip or denigrating fellow employees who are hard workers. Lazy, unmotivated salespeople are like a poison that works its way into the blood system of your team, causing resentment and bad feelings within the team. These people are also often the first to complain about their pay incentives and wonder why they aren’t making more money – totally ignoring the fact that their own laziness is the main reason.
Bad Managers Don’t Know How to Separate the Wheat From the Chaff
Everyone tries to put their best foot forward in an interview. So it’s your job as a sales manager to dig a little deeper. When you interview a potential hire, ask them about their history in terms of competitive sports or activities. Ask them to tell you about the last time they were involved in a competitive activity and how they responded.
Also, why not give them an exercise to do or to present to you on the sales strategy that they will implement in the first 60 days.
2. SET UNREALISTIC GOALS WHEN YOU ARE IN A PANIC
As we noted above, you can face pressure from your company’s executives whether your team is performing well or having problems. Company executives always want more. This can result in a sales manager setting unrealistic goals for their team because they’re panicking.
You naturally want to set higher goals for your team because you want to motivate them to reach those goals. Good salespeople respond to a challenge. They like hitting their goals and even surpassing them. They enjoy the feeling they get when they know they are performing well. When you create unrealistic goals, however, this has the opposite effect.
Bad Managers Don’t Set Appropriate Goals for Each Member of the Team
New hires need time to get up to speed. It’s best to use waterfall goals with them — ask them to do a little bit more each week or month as they get more familiar with their role in the team. Your best people can handle higher goals. In fact, they’ll want higher goals because they enjoy the challenge of exceeding expectations and because higher goals provide them with the most income.
Bad Managers Forget to “Manage Up”
You need to let your company executives know that your team works best with realistic sales goals. Even if company executives want you to keep pushing those goals higher and higher, explain to them that if you’re going to get the best from your team. You need to have realistic goals that will both motivate them and provide them with opportunities to showcase their talents.
3. DO NOT HELP THEIR SALES TEAM DO THEIR JOBS OR MAKE IT EASIER FOR THEM TO EXCEL
When you manage a sales team, a normal day consists of tracking quotas and seeing how your sales reps are doing in terms of their productivity. Perhaps you sometimes even provide a report to the higher-ups on how the team is doing. Being a good manager, however, means going beyond the daily routine. You need to be out with the team at least 60% of your time.
Poor managers don’t pay attention to important factors:
They Don’t Have One-on-One Meetings With Their Staff
Bad sales managers tend to sit in their office and not spend time with each member of their team. They don’t pay much attention to growing that important employee/manager relationship. The result is that members of a sales team feel adrift. They lack the feedback necessary to improve their performances. When a sales rep works with a good manager, they know the manager will have their back when they need support. With the bad sales manager, sales reps never know where they stand, which can leave them feeling frustrated and demotivated.
They Are Never Available When a Sales Rep Needs to Talk to Them
Bad managers always seem to be too busy. No matter when a sales rep tries to arrange a meeting with them, the sales manager always seems to be in another meeting, on an important phone call or out of the office altogether. Sales reps are busy people, too, and they often don’t have many opportunities to sit down and hold these critical meetings with their manager. Good managers are available when their salespeople are available. Even if it means taking a phone call late at night to talk to a worried sales rep, a good manager will make the time and the effort.
Good managers are good leaders. Good leaders are available when their team members need them. Yes, sometimes this can lead to long days and even some hand-holding for a panicky sales rep. When you are there when your sales rep needs you, however, you build a stronger relationship with your team, and you inspire them to work hard for you.
4. DO NOT PROVIDE COACHING OR TRACK SUCCESS
Good sales representatives understand that they never stop learning. So good sales managers will arrange for them to receive sales coaching on how to improve their performance in various areas. They also provide them with ways to track that performance so they can both enjoy successes and improve in areas where they are lagging.
Bad Sales Managers Don’t Provide Coaching
Remember those one-on-one meetings we talked about above? Bad sales managers neglect these meetings. Yet these meetings are essential for your sales reps to receive feedback on how they’re doing and for them to offer you feedback on how you’re doing. These one-on-one meetings are designed to improve individual performance and build trust. When bad sales managers fail to hold regular meetings or to provide regular coaching, they are neglecting one of the most important aspects of their job and will fail to build the trust with their sales reps that is the foundation of a good sales team.
Bad Sales Managers Don’t Provide Their Team With a Way to Track Their Successes
Since sales reps are such competitive people, they constantly want to see how they’re performing against the company’s benchmarks as well as their personal benchmarks. If managers fail to provide them with ways to access this information, they can cause frustration and annoyance to their sales reps. It also undermines the competitiveness necessary for a dynamic sales team.
Sales reps need regular access to information about their performance. They want to be able to see how they’re doing, if they are meeting quota and how this affects their income. If your company operates on an incentive system where sales reps will earn more commission if they meet or exceed their quota, sales reps will want to know how close they are to achieving their goal.
Good sales managers will make sure their sales reps have the information they need when they need it.