“Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” – Arthur H. Motley

The 4th quarter has just started, and sales pressures are mounting.

As a long time business growth consultant and trainer of salespeople and sales managers, I frequently see the most common problems sales managers suffer. These problems are at the heart of why a business fails to achieve its sales targets.

In most companies, sales managers are the crucial bridge between the company’s sales goals and the realisation of those goals. As a result, the day-to-day interactions between the salespeople and their clients are filtered through the sales manager’s perspective on their way up the company ladder.

Sales manager is a critical and challenging job. Unfortunately, it is often the most under-trained job in the entire organisation. Instead of providing information on the best practices and processes of the position, most companies hope that their sales managers have learned enough during their days as field sales reps to provide a decent blueprint as to how to do this job well.

Sadly, only a tiny percentage of untrained sales managers become good sales leaders. Instead, the vast majority find themselves caught up in the urgencies of the moment, creating short-term tactics to meet sales targets for the next week or month only.

The onslaught of crises mount, and they can never set a systematic blueprint for their team’s success.

What is the result of poor strategic sales management? First, few salespeople are effectively managed. All parties, executive management, sales manager, and salespeople, jump from one crisis or frustration to another. As a result, sales objectives are often not met, and salespeople are not developed to their fullest potential.

The better salespeople tend to leave this poorly managed sales environment and join other companies. This creates a situation where ordinary people survive and where average results are acceptable.

Inevitable common mistakes often arise out of this unhealthy situation. The biggest problem is usually a lack of adequate sales structure and process. This leads to weaknesses in:

  • the way sales territories are defined
  • the way salespeople go about their jobs
  • the way markets and customers are prospected and targeted
  • the way salespeople are compensated
  • the methods the manager uses to communicate with the salespeople
  • the revenue expectations of the sales force
  • the market share expectations of the sales force
  • the training, coaching and development system
  • the expectation for information collecting by the salespeople
  • the frequency and agenda for sales meetings
  • the sales tools used by the salespeople
  • the way social selling innovations are ignored
  • also, countless other such things.

A highly focused, strategically designed sales structure is one of the company’s greatest assets, as it ultimately shapes the behaviour and expectations of the entire sales force.

Most sales structures seldom come under critical scrutiny and review of the company’s management. As a result, many sales structures are broken remnants of the past, and the sales team is still practising old-school selling tactics with no strategy to change. However, the world of selling has completely changed. Have you?

Are you and your sales team learning and implementing leading-edge sales techniques, strategies and tactics?

For example, why do you have the sales compensation plan that you have? Is it because you crafted a strategic plan that directly compensates the sales force for achieving the company’s objectives? Alternatively, is it the plan you inherited?

The current economic climate has created new opportunities but has also made the sales landscape very competitive. Surviving in this new environment with weak sales management and poor sales consultants is a recipe for failure.

Improve your sales management – improve your results.

Improve the quality of your sales consultants – improve your outcomes.