One of the most exciting career moves a salesperson can experience is getting promoted to management. Becoming a sales manager is a major shift, and can bring with it new responsibilities, but also an opportunity to make a lot more money (though top sales reps can certainly out-earn their sales management counterparts).
But going from sales into management isn’t easy. To help you sidestep common pitfalls, we’ve put together a list of the biggest mistakes that new sales managers make.
Here are the seven biggest mistakes new sales managers make:
1. They micromanage their reps
This mistake shouldn’t surprise anyone as it’s not exclusive to new sales managers. But in this context, some new sales managers tend to focus less on leadership and more on “doing.” Michelle Pietsch, Vice President of Revenue at Dooly puts it this way: “I’ve seen some really great top performers mold themselves into amazing leaders because they know what it takes to really coach their team as opposed to becoming a ‘Super Rep’ — someone who micromanages everything and closes deals for their reps.” Rather than doing the work for everybody else, a leader should provide guidance, support, and education.
2. They implement a process without talking to the team
A process is critical to a sales team’s success. But implementing a process without discussing (and understanding) your sales team’s problems and suggestions is a recipe for disaster. A great leader will listen first, then act second. And when it comes to process, skipping this step can have horrible results, as the sales team will find that the process doesn’t work for them, and doesn’t solve — and most likely exacerbates — the problems they’re having. So, come up with an excellent process, but make sure your team is involved right from the jump.
3. They set unrealistic goals
According to Michelle Pietsch, setting unrealistic goals is a common mistake some new sales managers tend to make. Just because it’s Q4 doesn’t mean you can ask reps to carry the load if you’re way behind on your annual company targets. Sales reps can sometimes do the impossible, but a great leader doesn’t downshift responsibility, they help everyone rise to the occasion. So treat your sales reps the way you’d want to be treated, and make sure their targets are challenging, but attainable.
4. They expect everyone to sell the same way they do
As sellers, we tend to find things that work for us, and then repeat them over and over again. But when you become a manager, you can’t expect everybody to do things the exact same way you did them. Not only will your process not necessarily work for everybody else, but people’s personalities, communication, and work styles are all different, which means that implementing the things that worked for you might feel like trying to jam a round peg into a square hole. A great leader works with each rep on an individual basis to play to their strengths while working on their weaknesses. Don’t expect everybody to be exactly like you — it’s simply not realistic (or helpful).
5. They drag their feet on hiring RevOps
According to Michelle, another common mistake some managers make is taking too long to hire for RevOps. Sales leaders need to identify the gaps in their reps’ processes. The only way to do that is with clean and accurate data. Delaying a RevOps hire adds too much guesswork to a process that needs to be based in reality. It’s important to make this hire a priority on par with hiring new reps. The more clean data you have, the better decisions you’ll be able to make.
6. They don’t try to understand their rep’s motivations
A great leader not only understands their sales rep’s motivations, they will serve as their rep’s support system whenever they hit a low point. According to Michelle, a great sales leader should understand what it is their reps are working towards. Are they paying off loans? Buying an engagement ring? Everybody has dreams and goals, and a great sales manager will incorporate learning about their reps into their process. Not only can it be useful for coaching, but it’s also a great way to help out a fellow human being.
7. They blame others when delivering hard news
This is perhaps one of the most obvious signs of an inexperienced or flawed leader. In sales, there are always difficult conversations to be had. It’s a tough job, with a lot of pressure and no way to dodge the reality of hard numbers. A great sales leader will take responsibility and will adopt a “The buck stops here” mentality. On the flip side, a bad leader will blame others, especially those who work for them. So if you’re new to management, and you feel the urge to cast blame whenever a conversation gets hard, try to take a step back and see whether you can reframe the message. Your reps will appreciate it, and you will earn their respect.
Want to avoid sneaky mistake #8 — not giving your team the resources they need to succeed? Set up call templates and playbooks in Dooly to guide them through the selling process without your 1:1 help. It’s a good day to request a Dooly demo.
Join the thousands of top-performing AEs who use Dooly every day to stay more organized, instantly update their pipeline, and spend more time selling instead of mindless admin work. Try Dooly free, no credit card required. Or, Request a demo to speak with a Dooly product expert right now.