Managing a sales team is not an easy task. The sales manager is responsible for hiring sales people, training them, keeping track of their progress and ensuring that the company’s sales target is achieved. However, due to the intense pressure involved, it is very easy to make mistakes which could have detrimental results.
Here are some of the common sales management mistakes you need to avoid:
1. Not measuring performance
It is very important to measure the performance of your sales team on a regular basis. This will give you a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Some of the metrics that you should keep track of including the average value of deals closed, the number of meetings booked, the length of their sales cycle and the number of calls being made. With this information, you will be able to offer appropriate training to your sales reps to enhance their performance.
2. Hiring only experienced people
When it comes to hiring salespeople, the experience is usually overrated. While experience could result in increased sales, it could also end up working against you. Most people who are experienced come with preconceived ideas and are therefore difficult to manage. In addition, they probably rely on outdated sales techniques. It would, therefore, be advisable to hire some inexperienced reps that are passionate and willing to learn. This will bring a fresh perspective into your sales team.
3. Not corroborating references
During the recruitment process, many sales managers only rely on their gut feeling when making hiring decisions. A good number of candidates are hired just because they made a great first impression. When a sales manager feels good about a candidate, they might not see the need to check out references. Skipping the reference check in the recruitment process is a big mistake. Getting in touch with previous employers will help you ascertain the candidate’s previous work performance. Just because a candidate sounds impressive in an interview does not mean that they will perform once they are hired.
4. Failing to establish a sales process
Many sales managers make the mistake of allowing their sales reps to use any method to sell. While this could result in some level of success, it is not very effective. You need to have a well-defined and repeatable sales process in place. This will avoid confusion and give your salespeople a clear idea of what to do at all times. The sales process should cover aspects such as workflow, data entry and lead scoring qualifications. You can use apps such as Pipeliner, Infusionsoft, Streak and Cashier Live to streamline the sales process.
5. Inadequate coaching
Having a sales process is not enough. Sales managers should ensure that their team members are well trained in order to implement the sales process seamlessly. Make sure they have a thorough understanding of all the tools involved in the process. This will enhance the chances of achieving consistent results. Besides training your sales team as a group, it would be advisable to have one-on-one sales coaching sessions with individuals. However, you should be able to distinguish product training from sales training. Many companies spend many hours and lots of money training their sales reps on product features. While this is important, salespeople should also be trained frequently on how to understand their prospects’ needs before trying to sell them anything.
6. Overlooking feedback
Being a sales manager is not just about giving instructions to your team. You need to spend a lot of time listening and gathering feedback. Since your salespeople are always out there talking to prospects, they have a better idea of the challenges involved. Have regular meetings with them to hear about their experiences and ask them to share suggestions. This could mean adjusting your sales process in order to enhance effectiveness. Besides receiving feedback, you should also give your team members constructive feedback on their performance. Share with them their sales metrics and offer suggestions for improvement. Some of them might require additional training in order to improve different aspects of their work.
7. Competing with salespeople
The role of a sales manager should be to recruit, train, motivate and develop the sales team. However, many sales managers also go ahead to sell alongside their team members. This is not advisable for several reasons. First, the salespeople might lose morale when they realize that they are competing for leads with their boss. Such an unhealthy sales environment will only result in poor performance. Secondly, the sales manager might focus too much on closing sales that they forget their primary role of developing the team.
8. Poor time management
The job of a sales manager can be very stressful. With numerous tasks to handle and meetings to attend, one can easily get overwhelmed and thus become ineffective. This is why it is very important to develop proper time management skills. Time management tools such as Toggl, Nutcache, Launchy and Remember the Milk can come in very handy for this. In addition, you could identify some of the best sales reps in your team and delegate small tasks to them. This will give you more time to focus on the more important matters.
9. Hiring top salespeople as managers
When seeking to hire a new sales manager, the first people to be considered are the top sales reps. However, this could be a huge mistake for two reasons. First, taking your best people from the field to management will mean lower sales for your team. Secondly, the fact that someone is good in sales does not mean that they will make a good manager. In most cases, such people lack the patience necessary to work with others who need more time to learn. Therefore, when looking for a manager, find someone who is organized and knows how to work with others. You can test their aptitude for leadership by delegating small tasks to them first. Promote them to management only after you have ascertained their leadership ability.