The Top 3 Mistakes Sales Managers Make—And How To Avoid Them​

By Maura Schreier-Fleming

Sales Manager: It’s never a bad time to review your sales management style and see if you’re making any of these sales mistakes. If so, it’s not too late to fix them so you can manage your sales team and lead to success.

The biggest mistakes made by sales managers

Mistake #1: Over-sharing information with your team

Your salespeople, like your customers, are all different. Some are risk averse; others take more risks. Your information needs are different because of your individual risk perception and as a manager you should keep these different risk perceptions in mind.

You’ve probably heard of TMI or “too much information”. TMI also exists in email sharing, and some managers share any information with their subordinates. Risk-averse sellers will want to see all the information; risk-tolerant people don’t need as much information and would rather filter out what they don’t necessarily need to see.

Good sales leaders have various broadcast lists for sharing information. Remember that each of your sales reps is different and doesn’t need to see all the information.

Mistake #2: A one-size-fits-all management approach

Do you treat all your customers equally? Of course I hope not. Some clients require more face-to-face on-site meetings, while others prefer collaborating with you via Zoom or other technologies. Others say they let you know when they need you.

Treating all salespeople equally is another mistake sales managers make. You may find that some sales reps don’t like micromanagement, while others prefer big inputs because it gives them confidence that they’re on the right track. Your job as an effective sales manager is to discern which salesperson requires which leadership style.

The challenge for good sales leaders is also to recognize that they themselves have a preferred leadership style – either hands-on or hands-off. Just remember that your style shouldn’t be viewed as a one-size-fits-all style of leadership for your salespeople. You must have the flexibility to do different things in different situations. Flexibility in sales management contributes to your success as a sales manager and ultimately to the overall success of your team.

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Mistake #3: Poor communication

Imagine you are leading a sales team and not communicating your expectations to them. Or worse, what if your expectations change but you don’t see the need to explain your new expectations to the sales team?

Some sales leaders expect their sales team to sell without providing a sales process. However, without a sales process, you’re not communicating your expectations to your team. It is management’s job to communicate what the sales process should look like so you can see how effectively your sales team is executing this process.

Here’s an example: Suppose you’ve defined the sales process for your team and included prospect size requirements in terms of revenue, headcount, and other data. Then you realize the information isn’t what you want and change the numbers, but never communicate that change to your sales team. So now your sales team is looking for the wrong prospects. Ouch!

This example of poor sales management communication can be incredibly frustrating for a sales team. And when your sales reps talk about their frustrations, their conversations will only add to their frustration and sales results will likely suffer. Sadly, many sales leaders don’t even realize they are the cause.

To determine if you have a communication problem, look at your sales process and ask your sales team to define it. They’re in trouble when they can’t define it, or when their definition is significantly different from yours.

About the author

Maura Schreier-Fleming is President of Most sold, a sales training and sales consulting company. She works with business and sales professionals to increase sales and generate bigger profits. She is the author of Selling in the real world for out of this world results And Monday morning sales tips.

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