Fatal errors and results

Successful sales managers are leaders. Knowing how to inspire, motivate, coach and hold sales people accountable for their behavior is the foundation for improving sales. Skill sets for success as a sales manager are not the same as skill sets for successful sales people. In some cases it’s not surprising that unskilled sales managers with no training can commit many fatal errors without recognizing why sales fail to increase.

Here are thirteen for your consideration:

1.  Refuse to accept personal accountability for the behaviors and production of your sales force. Spending time blaming the sales people, the market, the economy, the product or the company will never increase sales. Accepting these excuses from sales people does them a disservice, as well.

2.   Neglect to develop the sales people you manage. The top job of the sales manager is not to sell. It isn't even to "get sales up." It is to develop the sales people on the team. The problem with promoting the best producing sales person to the sales management position is that he may think sales would go up if everyone sold the way he did when he was the top producer. It is rarely so.

3.   Focusing on the results rather than the behavior, attitudes and beliefs. Results are clear to everyone. Knowing what behaviors, attitudes and beliefs enable sellers to sell is the first step. The second step is to know how to change the things that get in the way.

4.   Don't use all the data you can get. Evaluate your sales people. It just doesn't make sense to stay in the dark when highly accurate, dependable assessment tools will tell you precisely how and why your sales people sell or don’t.

5.  Manage all your sales people the same way. Managing everyone the same way will result in frustration, lack of clarity, and missed opportunities for growth in the ability to sell.

6.  Forget the importance of profit. Sales volume is not the indicator of success. Dropping the price may get the sale, but it leads to leaner margins, lack of confidence and a poorly performing sales force.

7.  Focus on the problems rather than the objective. Know your target market and limit your presentations to qualified prospects. Learn as much as you can about the prospects in your target market.

8.   Being a buddy rather than a coach. Your sales force wants to get better. If they don't, see #11. Sales people need a mentor, a coach, to spur them to leave their comfort zone to find new success.

9.   Don't set standards and never rank your sales people by anything other than revenue. Without clear expectations, without the awareness that there are varieties of ways to succeed, and without the knowledge of where they stand, sales people flounder into isolation and alienation.

10.  Never train your sales people. Thinking you know everything the sales team needs to know about sales limits them to your experience. Without continual refinement in the rapidly changing marketplace, you can find yourself unprepared to meet unexpected challenges.

11.  Condone incompetence. Sales people can actually believe their lack of competent performance is acceptable when there are no consequences for poor performance. What are you doing to implement an accountability process?

12.  Recognize only the top revenue producers and then only once a year at bonus time. Failure to see the team as the reason for sales success leads to isolation, lack of camaraderie. Recognition of everyone's efforts strengthens the team and leads to greater initiative.

13.  Always see conditions instead of obstacles. Seeing a down market (or anything that gets in the way of business) as an unchangeable condition leads to excuse-making. Accepting excuses de-motivates the sales force.

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About the Author

John Glennon is an authorized licensee of Sandler TrainingSM in the Interior of British Columbia.

John is an accomplished sales person and manager with over 17 years sales and sales management experience. Beginning in sales in 1990 as a sales representative, he progressed to territory manager, sales manager, division manager and national sales and marketing manager roles throughout his career.

In 1997, John became a student of the Sandler Selling System. This introduction changed his sales career and over time propelled John and his career to new heights.

Successful in accelerating growth through strategic leadership, John knows firsthand the value of a sales training approach that follows a learning philosophy of ongoing reinforcement. He is experienced in driving the behaviours, attitudes and techniques required of an effective sales team.

Sandler Training is offered on a regular basis from their Kelowna, BC training center and through innovative distance learning programs to the rest of the BC Interior.


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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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