The Hidden Problem With Sales Teams

Ever wonder why some salespeople are really good, and others aren’t?

There could be, of course, several reasons. But if you want to know why the sales team isn’t performing, look at your sales managers.

Unfortunately, we don’t really know how to hire the right sales managers, so we take a great salesperson and turn him or her into a manager. Big mistake. Most often, the skills of a great manager are counterintuitive to the skills of a great salesperson.

Now, it is possible that you could promote your best salesperson and make them a great manager … but I wouldn’t bet on it.

The Sales Management Association found that, of the top seven topics frequently trained, six are targeted to what salespeople do and not what sales managers do. The mindset seems to be, if we keep teaching managers how to sell better, they will make their sales teams better.

Bottom line: Sales managers don’t need to learn how to be better sellers. They need to know how to be better managers. 

The most important training topics for sales managers, according to the SMA, are these:

Hiring Properly Upfront. The biggest opportunity to jumpstart sales and create true sales breakthroughs is to hire the right people first.

Assessing and Coaching Sales Performance. Managers need to learn how to monitor the key performance indicators and shift them as necessary before they get too far down the hill.

Funnel Management. Managers need to learn how to help salespeople build their pipeline from additional prospecting activities to properly move them down the sales funnel and close more appropriate business while not wasting time on inappropriate prospects.

More Targeted Sales Forecasting. Learning the sales process to create true forecasts. Many sales managers do not truly understand how to forecast, and, because of this deficit, they use the “educated guess” philosophy.

Planning and Assessing the Right Things. Sales managers’ KPIs often analyze the wrong things. Managers need to know how to address the correct activities and track them for optimal success.

The importance of a salesforce is not underestimated by most CEOs. It is just assumed to be run correctly. And you know what happens when you assume. ♦

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to [email protected]

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