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Joe Webb

Joe Webb Founder / Trainer

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10 Ways Sales Managers Fail

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The role of sales manager is the most important position in any retail operation. A great one can become the internal engine driving the sales team. A successful manager is the motivating force behind profit growth. A dedicated sales manager is the training arm that keeps the education of product and process front and center. Yet, a bad sales manager can kill enthusiasm, cripple cooperation, and condone bad habits.

While working alongside auto dealerships and small businesses to improve their communication, engagement and performance metrics, much of my training focuses on the utilization of tech (CRM, website, etc.) while the rest is dedicated to improving the know-how of the personnel. Never before has sales management been more integrated into the success of a store than now. They single-handedly influence policies, processes, technology and teamwork on the sales floor.

Poor sales management skills wreak havoc on culture and profit. Here are 10 ways sales managers fail:

  • They don’t realize they’re role models. Being respected as a leader starts with listening, not by delegation.
  • They don’t actively monitor how many available opportunities are being worked at any moment in the store, or online.
  • They treat every salesperson the same, not catering their training down to the individual.
  • They look at potential customers as “deals” rather than as people with a unique situation to be addressed. They’re rarely flexible to a new way of selling a product.
  • They don’t dedicate near enough time to performance reviews or sales forecasting, and do little coaching throughout the month to help each individual achieve their goals. They believe holding sales quotas over someone’s head is paramount to positive reinforcement.
  • They don’t know how to inspect their team’s activities. Instead, they only react to results after the fact. Accountability of staff is a core component to being a good mentor.
  • They don’t embrace mastery of their CRM or productivity technology as a means of finding existing sales opportunities to close.
  • They don’t try to get to know their staff on a personal basis, and in turn, rarely know how to motivate anyone beyond money or threat of termination.
  • They seldom reinforce the importance of a customer lifecycle (derived from multiple purchases). Instead, they only focus on the in-store process. The best sales managers realize rapport sells someone once, but relationships sell someone forever.
  • They don’t engage the customers themselves enough. This is the biggest opportunity for improvement. Far too many sales managers are “chairborne managers” rather than “airborne managers”. Today’s sales management need to integrate themselves into the customer’s in-store process earlier and more often. They must greet customers the moment they enter. They must leap out from behind the desk and work with the customer one-on-one at the first opportunity. They cannot send salespeople back and forth from the desk to the customer with more info or new pricing, using the sales team as an echo. They need to insert themselves into the process. Get involved in personally presenting a solution the moment the customer is ready to make a decision without forcing the salesperson to be their mouthpiece.

There are a multitude of trainers and programs teaching people “how to sell”. Not enough time is spent teaching management how to actually “manage”. As much focus is dedicated to closing deals, equal focus must be spent on teaching sales managers how to motivate their teams, hold them accountable, coach to the individual, forecast sales, reinforce product knowledge, improve customer experience, and make it a fulfilling place to work. If they’re not living up to this level of acumen, DealerKnows can help with your sales management training.

Those are the duties of a great sales manager. Don’t let any of the 10 ways sales managers fail infect the profitability of your store.

Scott Larrabee

Great stuff, Joe. As someone who has been a sales person and a sales manager before, these are some stone cold truths right here. As a sales manager I made plenty of mistakes, but also succeeded in many of those areas. As a sales person, it's amazing how many of these points impact what you do. A great sales managers makes all the difference in the world to a sales team and it's success!

Joe Webb

Thanks, Scott. What do you feel was your best trait as a sales manager that you don't see other managers embracing?

Scott Larrabee

By far the training, and making sure it is done DAILY! I was always very motivated to train, role play, and have someone shadow me to learn how to sell. In the process I became a stronger sales person myself and it allowed me to be viewed as a leader instead of a manager. There's a difference! 

Becky Webb

Great article - thanks Joe!

Joe Webb

Thank YOU, Becky.

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