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  • 8/13/2019 10 Biggest Mistakes 2012


    A S p e c i a l R e p o r t

    Overcoming the

    10 Biggest Mistakes

    Sales Managers Make


  • 8/13/2019 10 Biggest Mistakes 2012


    Copyright 20062012 by TopLine Leadership, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be

    reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical,

    photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without written permission from TopLine Leadership, Inc.

    Dear Executive:

    Now is the time to invest in sales management leadership. Improving the skills of one salesmanager is the best way to improve the skills of an entire sales team. Our Sales Management

    Leadership development programs give sales managers the skills and tools they need to managetheir time and priorities more effectively, and to become better sales coaches.

    To discuss your sales management development needs directly with me, please contact

    dale@toplineleadership.comto schedule a 20-minute conversation.

    Regards,Kevin Davis

    President, TopLine Leadership

  • 8/13/2019 10 Biggest Mistakes 2012


    Copyright 20062012 by TopLine Leadership, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be

    reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical,

    photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without written permission from TopLine Leadership, Inc.

    About the Author

    Kevin Davis is president of TopLine Leadership, Inc., a leading

    sales and sales management training company serving clients from

    diverse sectors. He has 30+ years of experience as a salesperson,

    sales manager, sales trainer, and consultant. He is the author of two

    books on sales effectiveness: Slow Down, Sell Faster! (Amacom,

    January 2011) and Getting Into Your Customers Head (Random

    House, 1996) Contact him at kevin@toplineleadership.com

  • 8/13/2019 10 Biggest Mistakes 2012


    20062012 TopLine Leadership, Inc. 4 10 Biggest Mistakes Sales Managers Make

    The 10 Biggest Mistakes Sales Managers Make

    #1: Fail to shift from super salesperson mode to managerial mindset

    Solution: Learn what it takes to be an excellent sales manager

    #2: Continually fight fires

    Solution: Firefighting comes from a lack of priorities and failing to look for theunderlying causes of recurring problems

    #3: Leave staff to sink or swim on their own

    Solution: The #1 priority of a sales manager is to coach the skill and will of the sales team

    #4: Ignore the importance of performance standards/get blindsided by poor performance

    Solution: Observe your best salespeople to define what they do specifically to achieve

    sales excellence

    #5: Fail to leverage the strengths and resources of your teams top producers

    Solution: Help your bell cows become role models

    #6: Spend too much time working with the bottom 20%

    Solution: Focus on middle performers as emerging contributorsimproving theirperformance will have a bigger impact on the bottom line than trying to bring

    underperformers up to minimum standards

    #7: Allow senior salespeople to get stuck in a demotivational rut

    Solution: Help re-energize experienced but complacent reps; get them to step up

    #8: Be inconsistent in recruiting and hiring

    Solution: Develop a rigorous hiring processyour next new hire is the future of yourteam

    #9: Assume your sales reps will figure things out the same way you did

    Solution: Avoid the temptation to leave people on their own; provide regular feedbackand coaching to your reps

    #10: Hang on to low producing salespeople for far too long.

    Solution: Set minimum standards, then enforce standards by managing poor performerseither up, or out the door.

  • 8/13/2019 10 Biggest Mistakes 2012


    20062012 TopLine Leadership, Inc. 5 10 Biggest Mistakes Sales Managers Make

    Overcoming the 10 Biggest Mistakes SalesManagers Make

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    As a sales manager, you make dozens of decisions every day that affect your customers,stakeholders and, of course, yourself. So, from what mindset are you currently making yourdecisions? From the mindset of a salesperson, or the mindset of a manager-leader?

    You might be quick to answer manager-leader. But are you sure? Have you ever made a

    decision that felt right at the time you made it, but didnt turn out the way you expected it to?Sure, we all have.

    In 500 BC the Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, wrote in The Art of Waryour strengths will

    eventually become a weakness. The competencies we developed as a salespeople, and thatworked so well, can suddenly become a liability for a sales manager. For example:

    Salespersons Competencies Effective Manager-Leader Behaviors

    Develop accounts Develop people


    Focus on your own production Focus on building a teamLove your independence Kiss independence goodbye!

    Do it yourself Delegate to your staffBe popular Be respected

    Confrontation skillsAvoid friction Cause friction, when necessary(handle objections) (use positive confrontation)


    Love instant gratification Long-term gratification, patience

    If you are to achieve your full potential as a sales manager, many of the decision-making habitsand mindsets that served you well as a peak performing salesperson must be un-learnedand

    replaced by a new, managerial mindset. You need a comprehensive managerial game plan,complete with the tools necessary to implement it. Were experts at helping new sales managers

    complete this transition.

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    Many sales managers focus on managing the issues of the day, only to see the same issues flare-up again the following day. These managers dont prioritize, never seem to get caught up, are

    stressed, frequently bad tempered, overworked, and often make important decisions simply byshooting from the hip.

  • 8/13/2019 10 Biggest Mistakes 2012


    20062012 TopLine Leadership, Inc. 6 10 Biggest Mistakes Sales Managers Make

    The key question to determine if you suffer from a reactive management style is this:Are the issues you face today similar to the issues you faced last week, last month, last year? A

    reactive managers solutions to todays problems return as yet more problems tomorrow. This iscalled the boomerang effect, which merely adds to the to-do list, causes more stress, and forces

    an even more reactive style. For many sales managers, it becomes a vicious treadmill.

    There are two common reasons why we arent more proactive. First, its easy to be affected bysome influence or event, drop what were doing and go along. And if others around us are

    reactive, we may be too. As Ronald Reagan once said: Its easier to ride a horse in the directionits going. Second, we may be reactive because weve always achieved success by quickly

    completing a task, and moving on. It is this bias for fast action that may cause us to think tooquickly. The result is we fail to look beneath the surface and see all that may be going on with

    what appears to be a simple situation topside.

    Is there a difference between reacting and responding? You bet there is. When you respondto a fire, your goal is either to a) ensure that it doesnt flare up again, or, b) if it does flare up,

    ensure that next time your staff is more capable of extinguishing it before it ever gets to you.Sure, it may take you a little more time in the short run, but the long-term benefits are well worth


    When you take a close look, however, many fire drills really arent a true crisis. One of ourassociates, Gary Connor, provides a good example. Years ago, while director of sales training for

    a Fortune 100 company, Gary took a vacation overseas. He left a voice mail announcement thatsaid, Ill be overseas for two weeks and unable to respond to either voice mail or e-mail. If this

    is important, please speak to my assistant.. When he returned from vacation he discovered hehad 93 voice mails! One of the first messages, from Joe in Hartford, came in two days after he

    left on vacation:Gary, this is Joe. Weve got an URGENT crisis here. I need to speak to you right NOW!

    Heres my phone #, cell #, pager #, home phone #, wifes cell #. Call me right NOW!A few messages later, Joe left Gary another urgent message. The following day, Joe

    called a third time. Gary, were making some progress here, but Id still like to talk to you.The following day, the fourth message from Joe, Ahhh, Gary, I think weve got it under

    control. Call me when you get back. Have a nice vacation.

    The point is that many problems can be resolved without your involvement. Anotherpoint is that if Gary had gotten involved in Joes crisis, he would have invested a lot of time,

    energy, cost, etc. And Gary would have been no closer to Garysgoals.

    Ask members of your staff the following two questions to begin developing their ability to solvethese problems without bringing them to you:

    What have you done about it so far?

    What do you think ought to be done?

    These two questions will gradually train your people to understand that if they bring you a fire,

    they must also bring a possible solution. Pretty soon theyll get the idea that they can resolvemany of these issues themselves, without your input.

  • 8/13/2019 10 Biggest Mistakes 2012


    20062012 TopLine Leadership, Inc. 7 10 Biggest Mistakes Sales Managers Make

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