The Blind Spot in Sales Management

Common ‘sins’ sabotage good talent 

by Jack Daly

Sales ManagementIt’s a simple fact of business: Without sales, no one else downstream can do their jobs. Because of how vital sales are to a company, CEOs frequently tend to misuse their best people.

There are three “sins” that minimize the sales management role, which ultimately holds the company back from achieving its growth. When they misallocate key players, small to medium-sized businesses tend to go in one of two directions — they either stay small to medium, or they go out of business. The reason most often comes down to a violation of one or more of these three “sins” of sales management.

In my 20-plus years in business, which includes building six entrepreneurial companies into national firms, I have found that having the right people in important spots is, absolutely, the secret to success. Yet business leaders sometimes blindside themselves staffing key positions. 

In sales, for the company to ensure continued growth, the people at the top must avoid the following scenarios:

Sin No. 1 … is committed when the CEO or owner wears the hat of the sales manager. Doing that is, essentially, relegating both the CEO job and the sales manager job to part-time status. In effect, the CEO or business owner is saying, “I’m going to grow my business part time.” In order for a business to grow, it must grow its sales force — which requires someone working at that full time.

Sin No. 2 … is to make the best salesperson the sales manager. It can work, but seldom does. The usual scenario, however, is the business loses its best salesperson and gets a mediocre sales manager. The roles and the responsibilities are entirely different. A salesperson’s role is to win new customers and nurture the ones already involved, thereby differentiating the business from its competitors. The sales manager’s job involves recruiting, training, coaching, building and developing. Being effective at one of those jobs is not an indicator that a person will be equally effective in the other. Salespeople are used to immediate gratification, involving a deal-to-deal routine. Sales managers, by contrast, must take their time to recruit, train and coach. A salesperson might easily become disenchanted with the pace of the new role and look for another sales job, which may even be with a competitor.

Sin No. 3 … 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. The person’s focus will remain fixed on the customer, as that is how his or her compensation is driven. Accordingly, the sales team will be underserved, missing the opportunity for leveraged growth.

Since sales drives business, it’s essential to match skills and personality types to the jobs, and to ensure the people can focus on their roles. Avoiding the above sins is a good start to accomplishing this.

The author of Hyper Sales Growth, Jack Daly is a sales trainer and sales coach. His 20-plus years of business experience includes several successful stints as the CEO of fast-growing companies. He has a Bachelor of Science in accounting, a Master of Business Administration, was a Captain in the U.S. Army, and is an accomplished author with audio and DVD programs.

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