Friday, August 31, 2012

Fatal Mistakes of Sales Managers

Modular home factory sales managers need to be leaders.  They have to know how to motivate, train and hold their salespeople accountable for maintaining and improving sales.

Being given the sales manager’s position is often seen as a reward for being good at sales but without the skills needed and regular management training, he or she may become a total disaster.  In fact, the average tenure for a factory sales manager is 18 months.  That is 6 months trying to fix the previous manager’s problems, 6 months trying to implement new policies and the final 6 months trying to defend their actions to the factory owners.

Sales managers have a difficult job. Their employees tend to be independent and even secretive while the higher-ups tend to be demanding and unforgiving.

Less than 50% of today’s factory sales reps have ever sold in during an economic downturn. We have an entire generation of sales reps knowing nothing of hared times so it should come as no surprise to anyone that unskilled sales managers with little or no training can commit many fatal mistakes without even knowing why sales fail to increase.

Here are some of those fatal mistakes:
  • The sales manager refuses to accept personal accountability for the actions of the sales people.  Blaming the salespeople, the market, the economy or the company will never increase sales.
  • The sales manager neglects to develop the sales reps they manage.  The #1 job of the sales manager is not to sell.  It isn’t even to increase sales.  The #1 job is to develop salespeople on the team.  The problem with promoting the top producing sales person to the sales manager’s position is that they probably think sales would go up if everyone sold the way they did when they were the top producer.
  • The sales manager treats all the salespeople the same.  Managing everyone the same way will result in frustration, lack of clarity, and missed sales opportunities.
  • The sales manager should be a coach, not a buddy.  Salespeople need a mentor, a coach, to spur them to leave their comfort zone and push on to new success.
  • The sales manager doesn’t set standards and only ranks the salespeople by sales.  Without clear expectations, without the awareness that there are a variety of ways to succeed, and without the knowledge of where they stand, salespeople will flounder into isolation and alienation.
  • The sales manager never trains their salespeople.  Thinking that they know everything sales limits the sales staff to the sales manager’s experience.  Without continual training in this rapidly changing housing market, the sales reps can find themselves unprepared to meet unexpected challenges.
  • The sales manager condones incompetence. Sales reps can actually believe their lack of competent performance is acceptable when they see no consequences for lack of sales. Managers often hire people who have no natural talent and then keep them on board, hoping that they’ll somehow acquire that talent.
  • The sales manager fails to control costs and profits. Many managers get hypnotized by sales without thinking about how much money it’s costing to make that sale. In the quest for more home and commercial sales, the manager often loses track on spending, especially when that spending is taking place inside another department. Worse case, the factory can end up in the situation of losing money on every module sold and tries to make up the difference in volume.
  • Sales managers expect too much from their reps. Most managers expect the same sales rep to 1) create a brand image in the builder’s mind, 2) locate new builders for the factory, 3) work hand in hand with builders to make the sale and 4) handle the ongoing relationship with the builder.
  • Sales managers look to hire “self motivated” reps. The manager lets them loose to sell however they deem appropriate relying too heavily upon the reps natural talent to develop and close the sale. This develops a “reinventing the wheel” pattern because there is no way to share what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t.
  • The sales manager keeps changing the pay scale. If the plan keeps changing, the company can end up in a situation where, no matter how many hours the rep works, he or she can't break the pay ceiling. Soon the company won't be able to hire good sales reps, as the company will have a bad reputation.
  • The sales manager has a “star.” The "star" gets all the hot leads and plenty of recognition while the rest of the team is overlooked. This alienates the rest of sales staff and sends the message that kissing up is the way to succeed.

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