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  • Clare Tweed

Sales Managers - The good, the bad and the worst

A sales team is the life, blood, beating heart, and soul of a business. If your team is successful, they’ll bring in the cash from the customers you need to allow your company to grow and prosper.


Sounds simple. Right? Just employ a sales manager and that’s all that’s required to run a profitable enterprise whose cash in the bank goes up every month. If only it was that simple!


To achieve this, you’re going to need a captain for your sales ship. That captain will be in the form of a sales manager and not just any captain though. The calibre and technique of your sales manager will ultimately dictate how well your sales team performs. Your sales manager will provide the motivation required by sales reps to do their job well, turn up every day, and to resist temptation when other employers knock on their doors.


As a sales veteran of over 20 years, I thought I would share some insight into the sales team and managers. Every sales team has different characters and personalities within it and they should all be fully embraced and nurtured by a sales manager.


A good manager considers each sales person’s current and previous levels of performance. S/he talks to them and finds out their strengths and weaknesses. S/he looks at new and better ways to support, mentor and challenge his/her team members to help them achieve and exceed their own and the company’s expectations.


In addition, the good manager is at the very heart and the centre of their team. They can be relied to be in the thick of it, offering support, guidance, and, more importantly, demonstrating how their sales people can use the same techniques to find and to close business.


I’ve had two really great managers in my career - both were very fair, approachable, hard-working, and appreciative of my efforts. More than that, they were confident in their own skin to allow me and other sales people on the team to be ourselves and to use our own styles to secure more business and just be there if needed.


A bad manager will look great to the business owner and senior management team. They will say the right things, they always seem to have the right answers to the awkward questions, and they will look like they are in control and have a plan!

In reality, this type of manager will not be there when needed, they make promises they cannot keep, and they leave the ship unattended without direction or guidance.


Some sales staff may have tried to raise the alarm but, alas, they are ignored. And, by the time the business owner or senior management team realise the awful truth, the bad manager has probably either gone off on sick leave or handed their notice in.


This type of manager will cost companies a fortune in salary and benefits and they will provide no value to the business at any time during their tenure.


Can it get even worst than the above? Oh, it certainly can and I have witnessed this myself.


The worst managers follow the same traits as the bad manager. They promise business owners that they will do all the things a good manager would do. They give great speeches, they appear intelligent when baffling colleagues with their use of industry speak, and they always appear to work long hours but for no appreciable gain. They seem to be in constant meetings with everyone including the cleaning staff and the tea boy/girl.


In reality, this type of manager will often have been an under achieving salesperson or not even a sales person at all. However, they developed the ammunition they needed to get promoted by attending lots of training courses and, because of this, they profess to be an expert in all areas therefore they do not need to accept input from any of the sales team.


They will be an obvious control freak either directly or covertly.


Any sniff of competition from the sales staff that someone has a better idea than them, knows more than them, or just wants to be themselves result in the worst manager’s insecurity radar being activated.


Once this radar has been switched on, it’s followed by a campaign of discrediting and demotivating their sales staff to keep control. To assert further control, they will give an announcement that new and unproven processes or systems must be implemented faster than the speed of light - without the numerous meetings and consultations that are required to implement an idea put forward by a member of the sales team.


The end result is a significant drop in sales, staff turnover levels go through the roof, overall company motivation is on life support, and the revenues needed to pay for the business are threatened.


The worst manager will always, when questioned, have the same explanation - it was something or someone else’s fault.


If your business is looking to grow your sales function, why not contact us to discuss outsourcing aspects of lead generation and social media management? We have only good managers working with us! Call us now on 0330 010 8300.

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