Sales Leadership 101 – Mistakes New Sales Managers Need to Avoid

New to sales management and your sales team not performing up to expectations? Maybe it’s time to evaluate your approach to sales coaching. Here are top sales coaching mistakes those new to sales leadership roles need to avoid at all costs.

Modeling Mediocrity 

The actions of sales leaders are more powerful than words. As a sales manager, are you setting the example you want your team to follow? The reality is sales managers are always coaching – both verbally and non-verbally.

For instance if during a sales coaching session, a manager blames management higher up the chain for an issue, they are likely developing a culture where deflecting blame and responsibility are the norm. Or if a sales manager is consistently late for meetings, and takes every opportunity to not be in the office, they are showing a lack of emotional investment in the company. If management doesn’t care, why should the reps care? Don’t act like a sales manager, act like a sales leader- because that is what every sales team needs.

Sending Reps Blindly Into Sales Training

There is nothing worse than sitting in a training classroom all day listening to a sales trainer review Sales 101. Group training sessions do have value. They can build camaraderie within the sales team, and are a great place for lower performing reps to “level up” their game by role playing with more experienced sales professionals. However, the last thing you want to do is pay for a day of training and have your team feel that they got nothing out of the session.

Ideally, you’re using a sales enablement solution that provides you the insight needed to set up sessions that are of value to the rep – tailored to their needs – instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach that is sure to deaden brain cells of some, if not all.

If you’re not using a sales enablement solution, then I guess the best solution is to meet with each member of the team to share your thoughts about what they might need and determine what’s relevant to them.

This is a painful way to do it, and it’s not terribly scalable, but you need to start somewhere. And we all know that when you put people in a room who do not need the material being covered, you will have mixed results, at best. But salespeople are especially vocal. And that can be infectious.


Taking Coachable Moments from Top Performers

Sales managers are judged on a variety of metrics. But for reps, there is usually just one metric they are ultimately judged by – sales outcomes. This hyper focus on outcomes overlooks an important question: why are the top 20% of sales reps doing so well, while the other 80% of the team isn’t.

Studies show that the majority of sales coaching time is spent on the lowest performing members of the sales team- with a focus on improving outcomes, while top performers who consistently make sales goals are among the least understood members of the team.

Instead of spending time trying to uncover the deficiencies of the 80%, sales management can invest that time into sales coaching sessions with the top 20% to discover why the they are doing so well. Those lessons learned about the approach and process top reps take that is working with your target customer can be applied to the other 80% of the team. 

What sales coaching mistakes do you see new sales management fall into? Leave a comment with your thoughts and advice!