The results are in, and they don’t look good. There’s no way else to put it: your sales team are failing. But WHY are they failing? And how on earth are you, the sales manager, going to turn it around?
When faced with disappointing sales results it can be tempting for sales managers to blame the team- perhaps concluding that the salespeople under your charge are somehow lacking in potential. But very often that’s not the case: in fact, the problem might lie in how you’re doing your job as their sales manager.
As you’ll see below, there are a multitude of reasons why your sales team might be failing. And yes, we know that the fault sometimes isn’t entirely yours, but it’s still your job to fix it. You are the one with the power (and the responsibility) to solve your team’s poor performance- whatever might be driving it.
Reasons Why Your Sales Team Is Failing
1. You haven’t been given sufficient training. It’s very common for companies to promote their strongest salespeople to management, give them a pat on the back, and consider them trained. Not so! The truth is that sales skills and management skills are worlds apart, so you’ll need solid training to master this new skill set. Ask your own manager to provide further training; if your request is denied or you want further information, start researching leadership on your own time. Even better, find a coach or mentor- you need a positive role model so you can become one yourself!
2. Your leadership style is undermining your team’s potential. You might be micromanaging. You might be unaware you are motivating people through fear. You might be making ‘surprise visits’ to check up on them. You might be playing favourites. You might be trying to be everyone’s best friend. All of these things undermine the trust and loyalty that you need in your team in order to succeed. Focus on being trustworthy and lead by example.
3. You’re not giving constructive feedback. One-on-one coaching is where the real breakthroughs happen, so take the time to sit down with each team member, using their sales data to analyse strengths and weaknesses and forming a plan for improvement. Also seek their feedback on how you’re doing and how you could make their jobs easier.
4. You still think you’re the sales star. I’m sorry, but that ship has sailed. There’s a new challenge ahead, and that’s being a star sales manager.
5. You haven’t shown that you believe in them. You’re trying to force people to do things ‘your way’. Results are results- so let people find their own style as it works for them. Maybe you’re even closing their deals for them because you don’t trust they really know what they’re doing. Your team will never succeed if you don’t coach them where you can, allow them to try their own style to see what works…and then get out of their way.
6. You fear they’ll be better than you. This is a very dangerous mindset for a sales manager, as it may drive you to jealously guard information, or you may even be quietly pleased when they fail to match your personal records. The drive to always be better than the rest served you well as a salesperson, but it will serve you terribly as a sales manager. Learn to encourage their success. Remember, for you to shine, they have to shine.
7. You’re setting unrealistic targets. If you think the targets are overly tough, then discuss them with upper management, or revise them if you have the authority. If you notice yourself thinking ‘yes, they’re tough, but I could meet them’, then you’re falling into the trap of taking yourself as the benchmark and not appreciating the varied talents in your team. Take your own sales history out of the equation-that ship has sailed, remember? Whatever you do, don’t promise upper management the world in a bid to look good, and then run your team ragged trying t to live up to it. It won’t work, no matter how hard you crack the whip.
There are so many reasons your team might be failing. But see the central theme here? Even if it’s not your fault, you’ll notice that the central theme is still you.
Which is great, when you think about it. You have the power to turn the entire situation around with some positive leadership. Your team does have potential. It’s your job to bring it out.