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MBPT Spotlight: Three Sales Management Sins That Weaken Businesses

I’ve spent decades building businesses and have met thousands of people aspiring to grow their businesses every year. When I ask them what they mean by that, they tell me that they want to grow their revenues. All business owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs want bigger profits. In other words, they all want to grow their sales.

For most businesses, the way to do so is to grow the sales force in quantity and in quality. When you do, those salespeople in turn will grow your sales volume. The lack of key people cost you no matter what size company you have. That is why, as you try to place key people in key spots in your organization, you need to carefully consider who is in charge of growing your sales force. That person plays a crucial role in your companies’ success.

Whoever runs the sales organization is responsible for increasing the sales for the entire company, ensuring future work and greater opportunity for all. However, most small to medium-size companies fail to put the right person in this spot. It’s a mistake I see over and over again. I have too-often witnessed the three sins of sales management that weaken businesses:

1. Sin No. 1 is committed when the CEO or owner wears the hat of the sales manager. If you are doing that, you basically are relegating both the CEO position and the sales manager job to part-time status. Big mistake. In effect, you’re saying, “I’m going to grow my business part time.”

The key to growing any company is growing your sales force in quality and quantity. Robust sales growth is driven directly from the sales leader position. This is the Sales Manager’s No. 1 job! Why would you want this most important job done part-time?

2. Another common sin of sales management is to take the best salesperson and make him or her the sales manager. It can work, but not often. Usually you just lose your best salesperson and get a mediocre sales manager. The role and the responsibilities are entirely different.

A salesperson’s role is to win new customers, nurture the ones you have and differentiate you from the competitors. A sales manager’s role involves recruiting, training, coaching, building, developing and retaining your sales team. To be good at one job doesn’t mean you will be good at the other.

Typically, the opposite is true. Salespeople are used to immediate gratification from deal to deal. Sales managers, by contrast, must take their time recruiting, training and coaching. It’s all about systems and processes. A salesperson might easily become disenchanted with the slow pace of the new role and look for another sales job, perhaps with your biggest competitor.

3. The third sin of sales management is probably the most grievous of all. The best salesperson is made a sales manager, but he or she is also required to continue booking business. It’s absolutely ruinous. Their focus remains fixed on the customer, as that is how their compensation is driven. Accordingly, the sales team is underserved, missing the opportunity for leveraged growth and lacking leadership. Systems and processes are ignored and the results are disastrous.

Each one of the three sins has the effect of minimizing the sales management role, and effectively holding the company back from achieving its growth. Small- to medium-size businesses tend to go into one of two directions: They stay small to medium, or they go out of business.

When you ask why, it most often comes down to a violation of one or more of these three sins of sales management. Having key people in key spots is absolutely the secret to success. Since sales drive business, it’s essential to match skills and personality types to the jobs, and to ensure that people can focus on their roles.

Daly is the author of the book Hyper Sales Growth and is a sales trainer and sales coach with more than 20 years of business experience.