The sales industry is full of self-proclaimed gurus pedaling inaccuracies, misconceptions, and straight up lies.
Many of these falsehoods have wormed their way into mainstream sales management psyche, leaving companies practicing inefficient and outdated management techniques.
Having worked in a number of sales teams, I have seen a whole host of management strategies and techniques. Some managers have genuinely enhanced their sales team through thoughtful, and effective strategies.
The large majority, however, have fallen into the same pitfalls and misconceptions that plague our industry.
Good Salespeople Make Good Managers
Time and time again, we see companies with a star sales rep, who has strung together a few solid months of performance, only to suddenly begin struggling once they are given the responsibility of managing their own sales team.
Sales and management require different skill sets.
There are some attributes and traits that carry over, for example, strong communication skills and interpersonal skills. However, many don’t.
A manager’s goal is to hone in on what motivates their employees, whereas many salespeople are at their best when they are operating as a lone wolf, managing their clients, and scouting out their territories for new consumers.
Data Analysis Helps Drive Sales
This is a tricky one because data analysis does have its uses. But managers have to tread with extreme caution when extrapolating data to drive managerial decisions.
Sales is a very personal craft. The best salespeople will modify their pitch to the individual, refine the product to suit the individual client’s needs, and build a personal connection with the customer.
At its heart, sales is about people and relationships. Reducing this to a game of averages is risky. It can ignore the subtleties and nuances of sales.
More Experience Means More Sales
As we mentioned before, sales is an art and just because somebody can sell a product to one demographic, doesn’t mean they can sell another product to a different demographic.
Hire salespeople based on characteristics, not experience or feelings.
Salespeople Spend the Majority of Their Time Selling
This assumption leads to many companies simply not being time efficient.
Many sales managers believe that their salespeople spend most of their days selling. When in reality, the average salesperson spends between 20% and 45% at the point of sale, and only 9-25% of that time is actually spent with the client.
Some of the most effective sales strategies focus on bringing this figure up.
Streamlining bureaucracy and administrative processes is one way to increase the time salespeople spend making sales and liaising with clients.
Quotas are the Best Measure of Progress
Many sales teams use quotas as a measure of success. But quotas don’t tell the whole story.
They measure the revenue generated, but cannot capture other aspects of a flourishing sales team, like customer retention, prospect attraction, improved productivity, and the time spent talking to people with genuine interest in what you are selling.
Regular sales audits are a far better way of measuring success.
The audits should compare productivity to investment return.
It should also consider client value. For example, if one product sale goes to a highly successful corporation with a steady revenue stream, it is worth more than a sale of the same financial value to a corporation that has been in steady decline for a number of years.
Both sales may bring the sales team the same monetary revenue, but one sale holds far more future value than the other.
Sales management strategies are constantly evolving and changing as technology develops. What was the best practice a decade ago, is no longer relevant, particularly with the development of AI.
The digital era is upon us. Sales teams cannot afford to be left in the past with outdated management strategies.