The consequences of ineffective sales management can be costly – and cause a ripple effect of inefficiency throughout your organisation. Here are six warning signs to look out for.
1. Overconfidence and underconfidence
Confidence is an essential ingredient in sales – but it’s important to strike the right balance. Too little, and you probably won’t reach your targets. Too much, and you might overestimate your abilities.
In particular, ineffective sales managers have a tendency to overestimate their ability to close a deal, causing forecasting issues. Overconfidence may also blind them to their weaknesses and therefore limit them from pursuing professional development opportunities.
“Confidence is only lucrative if it can be backed up by concrete, consistent results,” says SalesStar group chief executive Paul O’Donohue.
On the flipside, some sales managers suffer from underconfidence.
“A sales manager needs to be confident about their team’s ability to meet their targets. Sadly, most sales managers lack confidence due to ineffective forecasting.”
2. Repeating the same mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, but only ineffective sales managers make the same mistake over and over and over again.
A good sales manager will learn from their errors and strive to do better next time. An ineffective manager might not even know that they are making a mistake in the first place.
At best, this behaviour might go unnoticed. But at worst, the manager could pass on bad habits to their team.
3. High need for approval
Research shows that 20 per cent of sales managers have a high need for approval, making a huge impact on their ability to make decisions and hold people accountable.
And whilst being rewarded for a job well done is a great feeling, good sales people can operate without constant approval and feedback and sales people who have a high need for approval are often slower and less effective than their self-assured counterparts.
A need for approval is a mindset challenge and can usually be overcome with targeted sales training and support. On the plus side, it shows a strong desire to succeed, so with the right professional development it might turn out to be a manager’s greatest asset.
4. Poor people skills
Effective sales managers tend to be well-respected by their teams. They make the time and effort to connect with each rep and find out what makes them tick. They understand that everyone is different and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to management.
“Sales is a people-focused industry, and management is no exemption. Just as a sales rep works to build trust with a customer, a sales manager must work to build trust with their staff,” says Paul.
“If a manager lacks people skills, this will probably impact their performance and overall team morale.”
5. High staff turnover
Speaking of people, if you find it difficult to retain good staff then there could be a problem with management.
People love to work for managers they trust and admire. Ineffective managers often struggle to inspire a sense of loyalty among their staff, among other challenges.
High staff turnover is one of the biggest warning signs of management issues – don’t overlook this red flag.
6. Low or inconsistent revenue growth
As always, the numbers don’t lie. If a sales manager is struggling to meet targets and increase sales at an acceptable rate, this is a major sign of inefficiency – even if they tick every other box.
This is another issue that can often be resolved through sales training and professional development. It may also point to wider problems within the organisation, such as an ineffective sales process, rather than be a problem with the individual at hand.
Learn how to be a good manager and take your sales team to the next level in our free ebook, Highly Profitable Sales Leadership Tools for 2017.