Sales management: Step 1 – Stop annoying your sales team

Sales Managers

Sales Managers

If you want to get better at management a good first step is – stop annoying you staff.   But sometimes first steps aren’t so easy.  How often have you heard a colleague say something like: “I just wish he would start doing that – it drives me crazy.” People complain about their managers regardless of their position inside the organization or the type of business all the time.

Suzanne Peterson, an ASU B-school professor shared five ways bosses annoy their staff. While her five points were written to apply to all managers – we thought salespeople would be able to relate to them.

  • Avoid sending cryptic messages asking to see a staffer.  “Give me a call sometime today, I’d like to talk about something?” or “Could you stop by later today, we need to talk.” or “How are your accounts coming – let’s talk.”  These sorts of cryptic messages drive people crazy because they don’t know what the manager wants to talk about. Many people assume the worst and spend the rest of the day trying to figure out what their manager wants to discuss.
  • Make it a group when it isn’t.  Growing up, when my I did something wrong, my Mother often lumped my Sister and I together – saying “You and your sister both ….”  Too often managers use a variation on this theme – talking about things using “we” when it is not “we.”  While it’s fair to say “we” when it applies to everyone, when managers elevate everything to “we” or use “we” to avoid difficult conversations with individual staffers – that’s annoying.
  • Say you will and then you don’t. Buyers we surveyed over the years resoundingly report they value salespeople that follow-up – they like salespeople that do what they say they are going to do.  The more successful the salesperson, the more likely that they regularly follow-up with buyers in a timely way. This good idea also holds true for sales managers. Sales managers must follow-up to commitments they make to their salespeople in a timely way.
  • Deliver a lower-than expected performance review without sharing why.  Quite frankly, whether it is a great or a lower than expected performance review, the reasons why need to be part of the conversation.  If it is lower then expected, suggestions as to how to improve need to be included.  Plus performance reviews shouldn’t be a total surprise.  People should have an idea about what their manager will be sharing
  • Run a poor meeting. Meetings don’t have to start late, run long, or wander without focus. It’s the manager’s responsibility to run a tight meeting – with focus. In Sales, where teams often are spread across geographies and meetings are via conference calls or online conferencing tools, sales managers are faced with the twin challenges of maintaining interest and engagement.

Front-line sales managers are the pivotal job for driving sales success. Unfortunately one of the consequences is everything they do, all the time – matters.  So a great first step is to stop doing annoying things that are easy to stop doing.

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©2014 Sales Momentum, LLC



About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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