Leading a sales team is a little like juggling 20 balls in the air all at once, and trying not to drop a single one. One ball is sales coaching, another is training, another is hiring, and yet another is keeping an eye on the sales goal line at all times. Unfortunately, far too many sales managers and Sales VPs face intense pressure and inevitably end up dropping the ball in at least one crucial area.
In the day-to-day grind, you may have forgotten to coach your team consistently, skimped on the training of new sales reps, or skipped analyzing sales metrics because you were too busy. However inconsequential these mistakes may seem at the time, there can be serious consequences for ignoring important aspects of your job.
These are the 6 most common mistakes that sales leaders make and how to get back on track fast so you can keep juggling, and keep your job.
1. No Individualized Attention
When was the last time you met with each member of your sales team one-on-one? If you don’t know what’s going on with your sales reps, it’s probably because you haven’t asked. You need to set aside some time to meet with each member of your team at least every other week to discuss their progress. Focusing personally on each individual can be invaluable. You can go over each rep’s personal sales metrics, offer personalized sales coaching and listen in on their sales calls to find areas of improvement. If you never focus on members of your team individually, they’re missing out on many learning opportunities, and you won’t be able to coax the best possible performances out of them.
2. Bad Time Management
The reason you might feel like you can’t meet one-on-one with all your sales reps each is probably because you’re not managing your time well. Time management is an incredibly important skill for sales leaders, and can mean the difference between getting to everything on your to-do list, and missing an important meeting. Every sales leader has a million demands on their time, but it’s how you handle the pressure that make the difference. If you’re able to delegate responsibilities to your best reps, make time for one-on-one meetings, and still attend higher-level meetings with the C-suite, you’re on the right track.
3. Stifling – or Not Encouraging – Ambition
If you’ve hired a talented team of sales reps, they’re probably an ambitious group of people. You can’t forget to think about how your sales rep can grow within the organization, and how you can help them learn new skills. If you neglect this, you will see a much higher rate of turnover as your most talented reps move onto other companies where there’s more opportunity for growth.The best sales leaders have a strong vision for the entire team, seeing potential and talent in every rep and nurturing their skills to address their career motivations. Make sure to communicate with your team, guiding them and offering transparent information about how they can get to the next level within your organization.
4. Ignoring Feedback
A huge part of sales leadership is listening. If you’re not meeting personally with your sales reps at all, you’re probably also missing out on valuable feedback from the field. You should always be asking your reps what they’re experiencing on calls, what their struggles are, and if they think something needs to change. Your reps are on the frontlines of the phones every day, talking to prospects, and they understand the day-to-day struggle of sales better than you can. If a number of reps tell you that a modified sales pitch is working better, that is something you need to take into consideration. But you’ll never find out about it if you don’t listen to their feedback.
5. Forgetting Sales Process
If your team feels like the Wild West of sales, you probably haven’t focused enough on sales process. A team of very different sales reps will create their own methods of selling if they’re not giving the right guidance from sales leaders. If your team doesn’t have a repeatable and scalable sales process in place – or if you do but it’s not used consistently – it’s time to create or enforce it. Make sure every rep on the team uses the correct workflow, uses the same lead scoring qualification, and records the same opportunity stages. Enforce correct Salesforce.com data entry, and more. Sales process is incredibly important to growing your sales team.
6. Not Measuring Performance
What metrics do you track on your sales team? If you’re not focusing on specific sales performance metrics, you have no real handle on how your team is working. Metrics can tell you how many calls your reps are making, how many meeting’s they’ve booked, how long their sales cycles is, and the average value of the deals they close. With this data in hand, you can find specific improvements for each rep to work on. For example, if the metrics show that one rep has a much longer sales cycle, you can coach him and work on closing deals more quickly. A sales leader who isn’t tracking sales metrics is missing valuable insights into the sales process.
As the leader of your sales team, you should always keep an eye out for these mistakes and be working to improve your leadership. Whether you have to work on time management, don’t emphasize process enough, tend to forget about metrics or haven’t been guiding your sales reps in their career – it’s never too late to make a change and lead your team to a better future.