It’s a simple fact of business: If the sales department doesn’t do their job, no one downstream can do theirs. Having the right people in important spots is absolutely the secret to success. However, CEOs frequently misuse their best people.
When they misallocate key players, small-to-medium-sized businesses tend to go into one of two directions: They either stay small to medium, or they go out of business. When you ask why, it most often comes down to a violation of one or more of these three sins of sales management. These three sins minimize the sales management role, which ultimately holds the company back from growing.
To ensure continued growth, the people at the top must avoid the following major sins:
Sin #1: The CEO or owner also wears the hat of sales manager. If you are doing that, you’re essentially relegating both the CEO job and the sales manager job to part-time status. You’re saying, “I’m going to grow my business part time.” If you want your business to grow, you must grow your sales force, and you need someone doing that full time.
Sin #2: Making the best salesperson the sales manager. This can work, but it seldom does. The usual scenario is that you lose your best salesperson and get a mediocre sales manager. The role and the responsibilities are entirely different. A salesperson’s role is to win new customers and nurture the ones you have, thereby differentiating you from your competitors. The sales manager’s job involves recruiting, training, coaching, building, and developing talent. Being effective at one of those jobs is not an indicator that a person will be equally effective in the other. Salespeople are used to immediate gratification, involving a deal-to-deal routine. Sales managers, by contrast, must take their time to recruit, train, and coach. A salesperson might easily become disenchanted with the pace of the new role and look for another sales job?perhaps with your competitor.
Sin #3: The best salesperson is made a sales manager, and he or she is also required to continue booking business. This is probably the most grievous sin of all. It’s absolutely ruinous. This person’s focus will remain fixed on the customer, as that is the driver of his or her compensation. Accordingly, the sales team will be underserved, missing the opportunity for leveraged growth.
The key to growth is to put the right people in the right places. Since sales drive business, it’s essential to match skills and personality types to the jobs and to ensure everyone can focus on their roles.
Learn strategies for increasing your sales department’s efficiency at these AMA seminars:
Unlimited Sales Success
Developed with Brian Tracy, based on his research and book Unlimited Sales Success: 12 Simple Steps for Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible (AMACOM, 2013)
Advanced Sales Management