The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales Managers

Sales managers make mistakes. That’s understandable and acceptable – after all, they are human and imperfect, just like the rest of us. They’re trying their best, working their hardest and giving their all. Sometimes, mistakes just happen, and they learn from those mistakes, apply those lessons and move on.

However, there is a world of difference between making a mistake and committing a cardinal sin. Some of these sins can sink their sales teams, inhibit their business’ success and even cost them their jobs!

Here are the 7 deadly sins of sales managers. Avoid them to become a better person, and a more effective sales manager.

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Lust –

For sales managers, lust means losing sight of what they have committed to and instead chasing that shiny new object. According to Jim McDonough, the Sales VP of, one of the biggest mistakes sales managers make is to lose focus on the right target verticals and markets, and flitting off to chase a new market or target vertical that might be enticing from afar, but is actually a poor fit upon closer inspection. Stay committed to the target verticals and buyers that your messaging is going to resonate the most with. That type of commitment will ensure a well-fed and robust sales pipeline, filled with the right opportunities. Lusting after shiny new objects will run the risk of losing that focus and not building a strong pipeline.
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Gluttony –

Gluttony means over-indulgence or over-consumption – having a mentality of, “More! More! More!” This is a dangerous mindset for sales managers to adopt; more isn’t necessarily better in the sales world. Take leads, for example. Demanding more leads at any cost from marketing will likely produce a raft of low-quality names, wasting your reps’ time in qualifying them. A narrow, martini glass-shaped funnel – with fewer leads at the top – means that your reps are spending their time wisely and working on better opportunities. The same problem arises when managing rep activities. Asking for more calls is usually the primary lever a sales manager will pull when his team is struggling. Instead of asking for more activities, sales managers should be asking for more efficient activities.

Greed –

Gordon Gekko, in the movie Wall Street, uttered the infamous line, “Greed is good,” launching a million sales reps and managers into the avaricious mindset that would carry them through their careers. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to close more deals and making more money for you and your company; the problem with this quote, and having a greedy mindset altogether, is the implication of questionable ethics. For sales managers who might be tempted to dabble in questionable sales management practices – all in the name of winning more business, of course – this is a good reminder to always stay the course and make ethical decisions.

Sloth –

Sloth usually refers to laziness, but for sales managers, this doesn’t mean not doing their work; sloth-like sales managers are content with what they’ve achieved and don’t challenge themselves to improve. They rest on the laurels of last quarter’s or last year’s success. For a company looking to grow, this type of complacent attitude cannot be abided. Sales managers must set the example for the reps they oversee; this means always striving to improve your performance and not accepting a mindset of, “Just good enough.”

Wrath –

Having a quick temper when things go awry or when your reps underperform is a sure-fire way to create a culture of fear around your team and office, something you don’t want. You don’t want your reps walking around on eggshells, fearful of your anger and temper when things might go wrong. You want to encourage experimentation and innovation, and that means being ok when things don’t run as smoothly as you want. A wrathful sales manager who acts rashly and fires quickly will not earn the respect of her direct reports.

Envy –

“Players win games, and coaches lose them.” That is a common sports belief that also translates very well to the sales arena. Reps should get the lion’s share of the credit when things go well – this will encourage and motivate them to keep performing at a high level. On the flip side, sales managers should be quick to raise their hand and accept the blame when things don’t go as planned. The best sales managers and VPs always fall on their swords – that’s part and parcel of any leadership position. Don’t be envious of your reps when they get lauded for their strong performers; everyone involved know that you also had a big hand in their success.

Pride –

The sales managers who are most envious of the credit their successful reps also tend to be the most prideful, one of the most cardinal sins a sales manager can commit. Pride and ego must be put aside at the office. Don’t be too proud to admit when you make a mistake. Don’t hold firmly to sales processes you implemented in the past, even if they don’t work as well as they could. Pride is the downfall of man, and can certainly be the downfall of any sales manager.

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