According to a number of sources, the average tenure of a sales leader is about 18-19 months. That means on average it takes sales managers about 6 quarters to eventually resign or, more likely, get fired.
That is a pretty dramatic number… far shorter than most would guess!
There are obvious things sales managers get fired for, such as not meeting quotas, inappropriate use of company resources, and poor cultural fit with the organization… just to name a few. This post will explore the things that sales directors DON’T DO that can end their tenure with their company prematurely as well.
Not inspiring – We know that the role of the sales manager is to take the company’s vision and values and make them real by giving them context. A strong sales influencer has to find ways to inspire her sales team around these values and create a shared vision. This gives the team a foundation for how they will work together and how they will interact with their clients and prospects. Inspiration has the potential to transform an average sales organization into one that consistently over-achieves. When ignored, consistent success is hard to find.
Not getting the right people on the bus – As a sales executive, your responsibility is to build the best team possible-- one that can exceed the expectations of the organization. This might mean making difficult decisions to remove members from the team that are not performing or are not invested in improving themselves or their teammates. This might also mean taking the time and placing particular emphasis on attracting the very best new talent to the team. Not building a great team will almost certainly cost sales leaders their job sooner or later.
Not coaching…every day – Coaching is the most important role of the sales leader. This goes for all levels of executives, not just the frontline managers. Studies show that one-on-one sales trainings occur only only 23% of the time between sales directors and their sales professionals. That is a lot of missed opportunities for improvement. Every day there are opportunities to coach and to teach your team to improve. High performing sales professionals also need expert training support from their managers to stay at the top of their game as well. Here are a few best practices:
- Team supervisors should speak to their sales reps one-on-one every week.
- Sales managers should be in the field or on the phone weekly helping the rep prepare for meetings, attending meetings and debriefing after the sales meetings.
- Key performance indicators should be reviewed at least on a monthly basis and this data should be used to easily identify areas of concern and opportunities for improvement.
Sales training is a huge topic, so if it is not an area of strength for you today, please investigate this further. Remember, coaching is not about what needs to be done, but rather how to do it.
Not ending the elephant hunt – Supervisors and sales reps alike can get sucked into the exciting world of “elephant hunting”, and more often than not they fall prey to their own short-sightedness. Of course every healthy pipeline should have a few huge, quota-busting deals on it. However, if your sales pipeline is not at least 3 times your quota WITHOUT the elephants, you are playing with fire. Elephants (huge, low probability deals) have longer sales cycles than most salespeople will care to admit, and because of their poor close-rates, most sales directors factor them too heavily into the forecast. Missing the forecast consistently is another great way to get an early exit from your leadership role.
Not empowering their people – By enabling the members of your team to act and to make decisions, you create an environment of empowerment and action. This can supercharge a sales team and increase sales results dramatically. Sales executives who tightly control the flow of information to their teams and require too many sign-offs to respond to a client take the spirit out of a team and restrict performance. Yes, there is a chance that fewer mistakes will be made, but what is that actually worth to you?
That being said, empowerment is only effective when there is a culture of consistent and effective sales training. Help your people understand how to make sound business decisions and then empower them to execute with authority. When mistakes are made, address them quickly with an emphasis on how to avoid the mistakes in the future.
Sales supervisors are only as successful as their teams. The top-down autocratic sales manager has been replaced with one who inspires, builds great teams, coaches and empowers. To be successful in an authoritative sales position, you must deliver results. To deliver consistent results you have to leverage the full potential of your group.
What are some of the other mistakes sales leaders make that can get them fired?
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