How to Manage Sales - 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid

I've been in sales and sales management for over 10 years, dealing with medium-sized and large companies before and mostly with smaller companies now. One thing I've noticed is that larger companies have had more time to do is make mistakes, and (most of them) have learned from them. Let me summarize 3 common mistakes here for the benefit of smaller teams, but perhaps also as a reminder for bigger organizations.

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Three big sales management mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Keeping Track

Sometimes, it’s a little too easy to focus only on the end result. We can get so distracted thinking about how high (or low) the numbers are that we forget to think about how we got there. It’s essential that you look not just at the results themselves, but understand how you achieve those results... or how you missed achieving them. Without tracking things like the number of calls you make, and how many you need to make to close a sale, you won’t be able to repeat your successes or avoid failures. Keeping track will also help keep all team members on the same page, ensuring that everyone is following a proven protocol.

2. Having Lots of Sales Meetings

That sales meeting you think is helping your numbers? It's actually costing you money. For every minute your high-earning sales reps aren’t out actually selling your product, you are losing dollars. Setting goals or celebrating success together is time well spent, unlike prospect update meetings in a group. There are simple ways to ensure productivity and consistency among your sales team, without eating up their sales time. Options include using cloud conferencing tools which let traveling employees connect remotely, or lead tracking software that keeps everyone up-to-date. Your sales team is a vital asset; don’t waste their talent.

3. Demanding Unrealistic Metrics

Management’s job is to look at the final numbers and lecture accordingly. In sales, though, this just isn’t enough. Your sales pipeline needs to produce and keep producing, and this requires proper management, not bottom-line ultimatums. In order to maximize the potential of your sales pipeline, you need to analyze methods to determine what’s actually working, and what is utterly failing. Regardless of what your market analysis tells you how sales “should” improve, a truly successful sales manager focuses instead on the realities of what works for their company and their salespeople. After all, sometimes management can be a problem too.

Like every other aspect of business, managing sales is a balancing act. Too often, the sales team is pressured to deliver metrics which land somewhere between challenging and impossible, with no basis in the real world. Careful documentation and analysis can help you fix what’s wrong and emphasize what’s working. Meanwhile, let your sales team do what they do best-- sell your product-- rather than sitting in meeting after meeting. By shifting your attitudes about the right way to handle your sales, you just might witness a massive widening of that revenue stream.

Photo courtesy: darrendean

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