Becoming a new sales manager can be a huge milestone in a sales career. But it also presents unique challenges and responsibilities, especially for those who are used to being strictly sellers, focusing only on their own pipeline and not the pipelines of multiple employees.
If you’re a new sales manager, or aspire to become one, it’s crucial that you remain aware of the common mistakes that many of those who are new to sales management make. By understanding these pitfalls, you can proactively avoid them and pave the way for your success as a sales leader.
So if you’re angling for that corner office (remote corner office) or have just gotten that big promotion, make sure to avoid these six common sales management mistakes:
1. Focusing on sales instead of managing your reps.
One of the most common mistakes new sales managers make is clinging to their salesperson roots and attempting to close deals themselves. While your sales expertise is undoubtedly valuable, the primary objective of a sales manager is to lead, manage the team and coach the reps around the deals.
Instead of being overly involved in individual sales transactions, shift your focus toward coaching, guiding, and empowering your reps. By focusing on their growth and providing them with the necessary tools and support, you can enable them to hit quota not just once, but over an over.
2. Poorly coaching your team
Effective coaching is a cornerstone of successful sales management, but it’s a skill that is difficult to learn and that not many sales managers can get right.
Each member of your sales team possesses unique strengths and areas for improvement. And a great leader will take the time to understand their individual capabilities and tailor their coaching approach accordingly.
Provide constructive feedback, set clear goals, and offer ongoing training and career development opportunities (this last one is often overlooked). By focusing on building up your coaching “muscles,” you will not only earn your team’s trust, you will get results.
3. Not having enough information
Accurate and up-to-date information is the lifeblood of effective sales management. Unfortunately, many new sales managers fail to leverage available data and metrics to ensure their team’s success.
To make informed decisions and steer your team toward their goals, embrace the data, whether it’s by using Dooly (shameless plug, we know), sales analytics tools, or the information that’s in the CRM.
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These resources can provide valuable insights into your team’s performance, reveal trends, and enable you to make data-driven decisions (!). By effectively harnessing data, you can enhance forecasting accuracy, optimize resource allocation, and maximize overall team effectiveness.
At Dooly, something that came up in during our sales leader interviews back in Fall 2022 was being data-informed vs. data-driven. Sales managers know that closing deals is a blend of art and science and that for any given deal, you won’t have perfect data. They wanted enough data to to make higher quality, defensible decisions, but not so much that it was doing their jobs for them.
4. Not focusing on moving deals forward
A common misstep for new sales managers is getting bogged down by administrative tasks and overlooking the importance of driving their team’s deals through the sales pipeline. It is essential to prioritize pipeline management and ensure a smooth progression of opportunities.
To do this, regularly review the status of deals, identify potential roadblocks, and give your reps guidance on what steps to take to keep everything flowing smoothly (or as smoothly as possible anyway).
By actively managing the pipeline, you’ll maintain momentum, increase win rates, and achieve consistent revenue growth.
5. Prioritizing feelings over facts
In the world of sales, emotions can often come into play, but as a sales manager, it’s critically important to prioritize facts over feelings, which is easier said than done.
While it’s essential to consider the perspectives and experiences of your reps, decisions should ultimately be grounded in data and objective analysis. When evaluating deals or making strategic choices, always strive to look beyond surface-level emotions and seek out concrete information.
Rely on sales analytics, historical performance, and other insights to inform your decisions.
By adopting an evidence-based approach, you will minimize biases (including your own), foster a culture of accountability, and drive the right behaviors.
6. Expecting uniformity in sales approaches
New sales managers sometimes fall into the trap of expecting all their reps to mirror their own style and techniques. While it’s essential to provide guidance and share best practices, remember that each salesperson possesses their unique personalities, strengths and methods.
Encourage a diverse range of approaches and embrace the individuality of your team members. Create an environment that nurtures creativity and innovation while aligning everyone around a common goal.
By leveraging the distinct talents within your team, you can cultivate a dynamic sales force that aims to win, and is more than just a team of copy-cats trying to mimic a style that doesn’t necessarily work for them.
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