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5 Things Sale Managers Should Avoid


There are mountains of articles and loads of information out there enumerating all the things that salespeople and sales managers should do in nearly every situation imaginable. But what about the things you should not do? Where is the list of actions you should avoid at all costs?

I am giving you a much-deserved break from the regular nagging on what you need to do as a sales manager. (Theres only so much time in the day, right?) Instead, we are going to focus for the moment on the clear no-nos of sales management, so you can easily sidestep them in the future.

Here are a handful of things that every sales manager should make sure they never do:

1. Never ever stop looking for superstar talent for your talent bank. Dont make the mistake of thinking your sales team is set and that you will never need to hire again. Great sales managers never stop looking. In fact, the biggest mistake you can make is failing to interview on a regular basis. Those who wait for a job to come open are usually stuck hiring whoever they can find. Those with a talent bank select the perfect fit for their exact needs.

2. Dont get caught sitting behind your desk all day responding to e-mails, talking on the phone, dealing with last-minute fires, and working on inventory. I know there is a ton of e-mail. And certainly you need to look at the inventory and put out the fires. But the sales managers job is to be out in the field with the salespeople. You cannot effectively coach people from behind your desk; you need to see them in action during their performance. Imagine even the very best football coach sitting out the games and spending all his time in the locker room. It just doesnt work.

3. Dont have meetings just to have meetings. I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of conducting the regular meeting just because thats how its always been done. Remind yourself that your salespeople are happier and more productive when they are not being forced to sit in a meeting that feels like a waste of their time. Next time you are scheduling a meeting, challenge yourself to define the value it will bring. If there is value, determine the specific purpose for the meeting, and ask yourself whether its really necessary right now. If it is, question how long it really needs to be, consider combining this meeting with another thats already scheduled, or, if possible, share the information in an e mail that can be read at a convenient time.

4. Dont take all the credit. When times are good, dont be that sales manager who takes credit for the success. Dont ever get caught telling people how you accomplished the goal or made the decision that pushed the team to finally exceed budget. Great sales managers look for ways to give credit to their team and show off the talents of their salespeople. Look for ways to showcase what others have done to achieve success. You will find a wellspring of opportunity by looking for stories of clients that are seeing results and therefore continuing to work with you month after month.

5. Dont treat everyone the same. Or youll send the message that you dont value people for who they are and you dont care enough to know the difference. The fact is that everyone is different. Their talents, their needs, their maturity, their experiences they cover an endless spectrum. So how can you have the same expectations for them all? I admit that it takes more work to treat individuals as individuals and coach them in the way that is uniquely best for them, but the payoff is enormous. Get to know what each person is good at and encourage them to do more of it and more often.

There is no doubt that knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what you should be doing all the time. As sales managers, your job is about much more than exceeding budget. Your sales team can only be as effective as each person you have on board. Grow those people, and grow your team. If you focus on the people part, good things will follow.

Matt Sunshine is EVP of the Center for Sales Strategy.