I sat across the desk from Ted, a new VP of Sales. He had just been promoted 6 months ago. Before his promotion, he was the can’t-miss Sales Manager. Now he was just another VP of Sales in trouble. His team had missed the last two quarters. “I feel like I’ve got to turn around a battleship and I’ve got a speedboat’s time. I’m stretched in too many different places. I don’t have the time to focus on anything.”
Ted was a roll-up your sleeves execution specialist. But he couldn’t do it alone. He was spending a lot of time in the wrong places. After a quick conversation, we found he was committing 3 of the sales mistakes below. The majority of Sales VPs are guilty of at least one. Download our Mistakes Instead of Myths tool to solve these problems.
Here are the Top 5 Sales Management Mistakes we see in the field:
- “I should spend most of my coaching time with the worst performers.” – Consistent underperformers usually receive the majority of the coaching. VPs think, “If I can just get them to perform like my ‘As,’ I can make the number.” This is the wrong approach. Instead, think about it like this: I can give a 10% revenue production boost to anyone on my team. Who Should I Choose? A guy producing $1.2m a year provides an extra $120k. A guy producing $500k gives you only $50k. Focus on your A’s and B’s.
- “If our results are diminishing we need to double down on current methods.” – Many VPs are complaining that their teleprospecting teams aren’t delivering. The quantity of qualified leads is down, despite more call volume. List purchases haven’t provided the cheap refresh bump. Despite this, two VPs told me they planned to increase telemarketing headcount. Stop investing in efforts that produce diminishing returns. Find a different way to generate high quality leads. The office telephone is a dying demand generation tool.
- “My ‘A’ Players Don’t Need to Follow the Sales Processes or CRM Procedures.” – Too many “A” Players are given carte blanche to execute their sales calls. “A” Players who don’t follow initiatives undermine every other rep in the organization. Your new recruits and “B” players will see zero adoption from the stars. They will think, “If they don’t have to, neither do I.” This also rings true for CRM adoption. Make the CRM easy to use and intuitive, then expect compliance. No excuses for people who “don’t get” computers. If you let one person slide, be prepared to let everyone else.
- “This 2 day training event will produce real results.” – You hire the expert from a fancy Sales Enablement firm. They bring binders, sales tools, and laminated glossy sheets. Every Rep talks about how engaging the session was. They use the tools for the first week, then stop. Sales Leadership doesn’t know how to follow through. Training events that lack post-event reinforcement seldom see results. Make sure that you have a process to ensure adoption before the event happens. Press your managers on adoption. Ask your Sales Reps for completed tools on every call. Don’t let training be an isolated incident.
- “I’m responsible for pushing the big deals over the line.” – Sales VPs want to ensure that big deals they commit to will close. To do this, they accompany reps on multiple sales calls. The purpose is to show the prospect that management is committed. The reality is that the VP of Sales does most of the talking. This may help you win the big deal. It also starves reps of opportunities to close. Accompany your rep to show your commitment to the prospect. However, let them execute the sales call. Otherwise, you’ll create a culture that depends on you for every big deal. Now you’ve gone from a VP to a glorified sales rep. You’ll have no time for your strategic initiatives.
Ted was able to turn his organization around. After we diagnosed the problems, we prioritized a list of corrective actions. You can download an example here. Ted made specific time commitments to each problem. He invested more in his managers. He leaned on them to execute his initiatives. If you’re a Sales VP, you probably recognize yourself in at least one example. Don’t fall victim to another Sales Management Mistake.