As a sales manager, your job is to empower your team members to succeed. You are responsible for overseeing your sales process, providing regular coaching, and monitoring the KPIs of your sales reps. Everything you do has one goal: to help your team achieve its maximum potential.
However, many sales managers focus their energy on things that aren’t productive. If you want to be an effective manager, these are the things that you should stop doing.
1) Using the same management style for every rep
Once you’ve figured out a management style that works, you may feel compelled to repeat it with every sales rep. But the best managers are able to adapt their approach to individual sales reps’ needs.
Whenever a new rep joins your team, figure out their communication preferences and how best to motivate them. Although it is entirely reasonable to expect that they adapt to your culture at your company, you should individualize your management approach to some extent. This makes sales reps feel welcome and appreciated, allowing them to do their best work.
2) Avoiding difficult conversations about sales rep performance
Talking about lackluster performance is unpleasant, so some sales managers are tempted to avoid the subject altogether. This is actually detrimental to underperforming sales reps and the team as a whole
You should plan to review sales representative performances on a regular basis. Start these conversations by looking at the data. Feelings can be difficult, but by using data to drive the conversation you can bring objectivity to the conversation. Be frank in your assessment and conclude by focusing on the future. Help your reps come up with a game plan for improving their performance.
3) Devoting too much time on your own sales
Most sales managers carry individual quotas. However, your team’s performance needs to be your top priority. Schedule your time accordingly. Although you’ll still want to allot time to build your own pipeline and carry out sales activities, the bulk of your time needs to be devoted to management responsibilities. If you can manage your time effectively, you will be able to meet your own quota while helping your team to thrive.
When it makes sense to do so, use your selling activities as learning opportunities. A new rep can learn a lot by listening to an experienced salesperson’s prospecting calls. Still, you need to make sure that your team is fully supported first.
4) Not setting clear boundaries between you and your reps
Sales managers naturally want to be liked. If you’ve been recently promoted, you may already be on a friendly basis with members of your team. But as a sales manager, you have a fundamentally different relationship with your team members. Becoming overly chummy with them can make it more difficult for you to do key parts of your job, such as holding sales reps accountable for their performance.
Set boundaries with your team. Be supportive but make it clear that you’re not buddies at work.
5) Communicating points vaguely
Communication is the key to success as a sales manager. However, don’t mistake a large number of communications for quality. Some managers are so eager to communicate with their reps that they send a regular barrage of emails. Oftentimes, emails are too long and don’t have a clear purpose.
Your reps are already getting a lot of emails. Every email you send should add clear value to them. Keep your communications short and to the point. Avoid the urge to give extensive coaching via email. That’s often better for face-to-face meetings.
Remember that email is only one communication tool of many. Use it well, and your reps will appreciate it.
6) Managing tasks instead of expectations
Your sales reps will come to you with their problems, both large and small. That’s great—but you need to be careful in how you respond. Remember, your goal isn’t just to fix the immediate problem. You want to train your reps to be more capable and confident in their selling abilities.
When someone comes to you with a problem, listen carefully. But avoid the urge to come back immediately with a long list of things the rep should do. Instead, ask questions that prompt the representative to consider their options. Say things like, “What do you think should be done next?” and “What are some pros and cons of that course of action?”
This approach signals to sales reps that you’re there to help while facilitating their growth.
7) Failing to provide hands-on coaching to sales reps
One-on-one meetings with sales representatives can be great, but it’s oftentimes helpful to provide more direct coaching. Make sure that you’re allotting time to sit in on sales calls and otherwise observe your sales reps in action. There is no substitute for that kind of qualitative feedback.
8) Setting unrealistic expectations for your team members
High expectations can be motivating, but at some point, high expectations become unrealistic. Some managers go too far in berating sales reps for mistakes. To earn your team members’ trust, you have to acknowledge that no one is perfect. Set expectations that are ambitious, but not impossible.
If you can avoid these mistakes, you will help your team to thrive.