By John Treace
I have been part of many business turnarounds in my career, and in all situations I have noted the errors consistently made by sales management, all of which negatively impact team morale and sales.
Here are seven of the deadly sins of sales management:
1 Conflicts with marketing
We have all heard of the traditional conflict between sales and marketing. The sales team says the product is priced too high or not what the customer wants. Marketing may say the sales force is not well trained, too small, ineffective, or a myriad of other complaints.
Sometimes these are valid complaints, but if they aren’t valid, or are merely excuses for poor performance, it is imperative that management recognise this situation. There is nothing worse than having the sales and marketing departments at each other’s throats; it’s a formula for business failure and management must create collaboration and understanding between the two groups.
2 Poor people management
Powerful investment groups don’t invest in companies; they invest in people. People are the most important ingredient in any organisation. At the heart of high-performance organisations is management that obtains the willing cooperation of others to achieve its goals. To gain the willing cooperation of others, employees must see that management genuinely cares about them, that they can trust management’s word, and that management focuses on distinction in all aspect of the business.
3 Not holding people accountable
Holding people accountable for their performance is a cornerstone of powerful organisations. This is especially true during trying times, when management is inclined to lighten up on performance standards. During a downturn, it is better to reduce quota requirements than look the other way on non-performance.
4 Poor award programmes
Award programmes need to be seen as achievable and fair. Reps need to see that the playing field is level and that everyone has a shot at winning recognition. It is amazing how many companies have award programmes that are slanted in favor of a few preferred individuals. This sends a morale-damaging message to all reps, including the favoured ones: that some are valued over others.
5 Changes to the sales process
The sales process includes all the steps and procedures a company puts in place on its way to having the product delivered and invoiced. When the sales process is changed or modified, expect the sales force to need time to adjust. During a period of adjustment to a new process, expect sales to be impacted. When the sales process is changed, all of management should expect sales, as well as sales forecasting, to be affected and in a direct proportion to the degree and type of change, at least for the short term.
6 Poor metrics
Metrics are the numbers that tell us where we have been and where we are headed. They should act as the radar that lets us know well in advance of impending problems. A large number of sales management teams get into trouble due to ineffective metrics—or in extreme cases I’ve seen, no metrics at all. In today’s high-velocity markets, it is imperative to have a solid dashboard of metrics to guide the sales ship and keep it out of trouble.
7 Lack of deep understanding of the business
Failing to know the business at a deep level is one of the surest paths to failure.
When sales are going well, the lack of deep business understanding usually does not appear as a problem, but when business is challenged by sagging sales, it is. These are the times when a thorough understanding of the company’s customers, products and services, and sales process is critical. Without it, sales reps cannot be confident in the course taken by management.
John Treace has 30 years experience as a sales executive in the medical products industry and has spent a decade restructuring the sales departments of struggling companies.
For more information visit www.treaceconsulting.com