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3 Mistakes Sales Leaders Make That Cripple Their Teams

Great players make for great teams. But great players without a great coach is a problem. A big problem.

Worryingly only 18% of sales managers are any good! There is an elite 7%, another 11% that are strong and the remaining 82% - well they need to either get out of sales management or do something drastic to improve.

Most of their salespeople are poor performers but instead of coaching them up, providing training, demanding improvements, replacing salespeople and focusing our hiring better salespeople, holding the team accountable and focusing on ramping up new salespeople, they either ignore these issues or are ineffective at addressing them. AND then they provide excuses. To achieve breakthrough results, good salespeople are essential, but good sales managers are absolutely critical.

If you’re an ineffective leader, you are holding your sales team back. So, what exactly are the common mistakes that these ineffective sales leaders making and what’s the solution?

1) Confusing product knowledge training with selling practice

Most small and medium size companies do not provide sales training, and when they do, it’s usually the wrong training, for the wrong reasons, sometimes with the wrong salespeople, and often for the wrong frequency and duration. How can we help the 74% of salespeople are poor performers if the training provided doesn't help evaluate their game?

Even more concerning is the lack of distinction between training a salesperson in sales skills and training them on the company’s product. Asking the average leader is he or she provides sales training, and they will almost always say they do. But a closer look at that “sales” training reveals that it almost always revolves around product knowledge.

Obviously, your salespeople need to know the products they’re selling but its selling skills that are crucial to their overall success. But selling skills are critically important to their success, and very few teams practice those skills.

Incorporate sales training techniques such as role-plays or you’ll find your reps are going out practising their skills with real life prospects and clients. As a leader, have you considered the consequences of this action?

Perhaps it’s time to write a list of critical skills your team is lacking to approach in training. It’s about balancing your time with product and skill training to create the most effective salespeople.

Here’s an idea to get the ball rolling, did you know that 75% of salespeople believe their approach differentiates them, but only 3% of their clients agree. Why should I choose YOU? - that is what they are the client wants to know. Here is a quick check to see how your sales team is going with differentiating themselves- ask them: “What is our value proposition?”, then, “Why should I buy from you?”

2) Failing to conduct regular one-on-one meetings

Manage individuals; lead a team. Yes, you’re a busy person and so are your salespeople- it can be difficult even to schedule a one-on-one meeting let alone find time to attend it. But great leaders develop their people, and part of this development is providing feedback, communicating and establishing accountability.

A weekly (yes, weekly) one-on-one meeting will create instant accountability with your salespeople- imagine what that could do for the bottom line. Skipping out on just one meeting can result in your reps dodging accountability and hiding behind a wall of excuses. If the meeting was in relation to a chronic performance issue, you’ve just given your team a ‘get out of jail free card’, and any future action might come too late to create any meaningful change.

Meetings don’t always need to be about solving issues, take the time to provide positive feedback and pat your team on the back. Most salespeople say they want “directions and feedback” and feel self-doubt and directionless when not received. Feedback is a valuable coaching tool that helps identify performance gaps that can then be focused on in training sessions. Sales managers who fail to elect time are impacting their sales team’s potential growth.

Don’t allow these meetings to fall by the wayside. Adopt a sense of urgency to the task and schedule a time each week/bi-weekly/monthly to conduct these one-on-one meetings. Be descriptive over judgemental and create an action plan for your reps to find success.

3) Failing to deal with performance issues

Here it is, the cardinal mistake- failing to address performance issues effectively. I touched on this when talking about one-on-one meetings.

Several different factors cause the failure to hit sales numbers. Poor prospecting, thin pipelines, pricing surpluses, the list goes on. Whatever the problem, it’s clear the issue is preventing your rep from achieving their goals, and this isn’t something you want to ignore.

Leaders can’t sit idle; they must seek out any issues or skill gaps, coach it, improve it and build the reps confidence back before it’s too late. Or when improvements aren’t forthcoming, help the rep find another opportunity- in extreme cases.

If you don’t here’s the repercussions you could face. Your credibility will suffer. Morale decline within your team. And suddenly you find you’re not even doing the job you were hired for- making your team better. This is the part where resentment can kick in, especially from your top performers when you’re currently just accepting sub-par performances.

Fixing this is as easy as becoming aware of any issues quickly and dealing with them promptly. Keep a visual on your rep’s sale plan and their weekly activity. If you notice any issues in real time, you can approach the rep with a one-on-one meeting time and ask them to analyse the issue and come back to you with a plan to solve it. Then you can jump in with your coaching.

Don’t fall under the illusion that just discussing the issue will solve it. Without a thorough and well thought out action plan, how will it ever get resolved?

How you choose to act and handle these situations will define your team, your leadership style and your future achievements.

SG Partners Super Sales Clinic this August 22nd-23rd is the best opportunity to brush up on your sales skills and network with other industry leaders. Discover the possibilities by downloading the brochure now.

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