The Top Five Mistakes Sales Managers Make With Their Team.

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It feels great getting that promotion to a sales manager position. But being a great sales manager is very different to being a great salesperson. Suddenly you have a team of people all looking at you to lead, inspire and coach them to be successful. And just as suddenly, the skills that you relied upon to get you to the top in sales are no longer the important skills you need to excel as a manager.

In this blog we look at the top 5 mistakes sales managers make with their teams and show you how to overcome them to connect with your team and inspire positive results.

Mistake 1

Trusting forecasts and overestimating potential

As many sales managers come from top performing sales backgrounds, they often assume everyone has a high level of competence when selling. Because of this, many managers see sales forecasts through rose tinted glasses and believe too much in the ability of their team members. Not wanting to micro-manage, they leave sales problems too long before addressing them.

Instead: Remember that the behaviours you found easy and obvious as a salesperson may not come naturally to your team. Look for facts and data (KPIs, call-close ratios, closed business, revenue generated) rather than reassurances and promises. If their data is not supporting their promises, don’t let the problem drag on for months; nip the issue in the bud as early as possible. Set clear expectations and deadlines, then coach and support them to achieve it.

Mistake 2

Thinking everyone on the team is the same

Another common mistake is to assume that everyone on your team has the same motivations, drivers and goals. Managers often set incentives around money and rewards, not realising that this does not drive everyone to be successful. If you are not 100% certain what each individual is working towards, how can you motivate them to get there?

Instead: schedule a 1-1 to help you get to know every team member. Everyone on your team is entirely different, with different personalities, goals and drivers. Ask them what drives them, what their goals are (inside and outside of work), what they are motivated by and how they like to be managed. Don’t forget about the top performers. Just because they are doing well it doesn’t mean they don’t need anything from you. Get to know their big picture goals and see how you can help them be even better.

Mistake 3

Trying to be everyone’s mate

Many managers find themselves managing a team of their old friends and try to keep the identity of being everyone’s mate. However, without a strong, aspirational leader the team will adopt negative habits and ultimately this will drive a wedge through team performance.  

Instead: Step up and lead by example. The team don’t need a mate, they need someone to lead them. Ditch the nicknames, stop ordering shots on the work night out, go to bed before everyone else, get up before everyone else, be healthy, fit and sober… and watch what you say. Everything you say (positive and negative) will become the ‘unwritten law’ and will dictate how the team think and act. Be the leader that you would follow.

Mistake 4

Selling instead of coaching

Your role is a sales manager not a salesperson. Although you know this, it is amazing how many managers attend prospect meetings with their team member and take over. An hour goes by and the manager has done all the talking. Yes, it feels good to sell but taking over does nothing for the development of the individual.

Instead: You may have heard of the phrase, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry again”. It is the same in sales management. When in a prospect meeting, your role is to listen, observe and coach your salesperson on how to continually improve. Focus on equipping them with the tools they need to sell well and reap their success long after you have left the meeting.

Mistake 5

Fixing everyone’s problems

Salespeople are great at finding solutions to problems. They love fixing things. However as a manager, trying to fix everyone’s problems can manifest itself in all sorts of issues; a team who delegates their issues up to you will create a huge workload as you spend your time on admin and firefighting.

Instead: Embed this mantra into your team, “Come to me with a solution, not a problem.” Getting your team to think about the solution before they ask you the question will empower them to think for themselves and take ownership of future problems.

In summary, in order for you to excel as a manager, it is important to let go of some of your old sales habits and start forging some new ones. Focus on each individual, inspire them to reach their goals, be strict on performance data, empower individuals to solve problems and become the leader who you would follow.

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