An effective manager’s efforts will play a significant role in the team’s success.

An ineffective manager will hinder the team’s progress.

Whoever has responsibility for managing the sales team is accountable for the results. As my father always said, “If the fish stinks at the tail, it smells the same at the head.”  In other words, you’re steering the ship. If going in the wrong direction, then change course.

Here are three common mistakes of ineffective leaders and how to fix.

#1 – Ineffective Training

When asked, most managers will say they provide adequate training. What I’ve found is it usually revolves around product knowledge, safety, HR training, or other mandatory training. Seldom is skill development training provided, and if so, it’s only once in a blue moon.

Yes, knowing your product well is critical. But the knowledge that cannot be applied is useless.

Ineffective Training FIX

Selling requires communication skills, listening skills, planning, and preparation, to name a few. These skills should be practiced regularly by everyone on the team. Practice in sales training is commonly known as role-playing.

Develop a list of critical skills needed to master the art of selling your product. If you need ideas and help, bring in an expert to assist.

Balance your product training with selling skills exercises to produce more effective salespeople that are true professionals.

Schedule regular training workshops that always include time for salespeople to practice those skills as well as other customer interactions through role-play scenarios.

You may ask how often to hold these sessions? The answer is: you do it until you get it right and then do it again. Do you honestly think pro athletes or other professionals stop training just because they are at the top of their game? Of course not. Make practice a regular event. Make it fun too.

Remember, it is far better for reps to work out the kinks in their approach during training than to take practice on your customers in the field.

 

#2 – Ineffective one-on-one meetings

Everyone is busy, and most managers don’t invest time to meet with each team member one-on-one often. Okay, maybe once a year for the mandatory review.

Unfortunately, the manager may hold group calls and sales meetings. I say unfortunately because over 80% of these meetings I’ve observed are a dreadful waste of time. If appropriately conducted these events could be very productive for all involved. (A pet peeve topic for another time soon!)

Ineffective one-on-one meeting FIX

Coaching is about human interaction and knowing your team members. Without one-on-one meetings, an individual’s poor performance or challenges or success will not be evident until sometimes too late to appraise.

Learn how to conduct effective one-on-one meetings. You, as a manager determined to become a good leader, should also strive for professional growth. Find a coach that can help you develop these skills.

Make one-on-one meetings a priority. If you don’t take it seriously, your team won’t take it seriously. Schedule the meeting on your calendars and make it happen. Treat it with importance and follow through.

Through these meetings, you will gain visibility into each person’s activity, critical accounts, challenges, needs, and wins. You can help them with stumbling blocks early in the process, coach them rather than merely monitor results, and gain a better grasp of the business condition. It will naturally hold everyone accountable. When you report to senior management, it will be with in-depth knowledge of the business climate and provide them with valuable insight.

 

#3 – Ineffectively managing performance issues

Failing to address performance issues adequately is one of the worst mistakes.

The good performers will resent your inaction. Morale declines and your credibility suffers making it impossible to expect top performance from other team members if you’re willing to accept sub-par performance from certain individuals.

Ineffectively managing performance issues FIX.

Your job is to address performance issues at first sight. If you are holding one-on-one meetings, problems will surface sooner rather than fester, and you can take action early.

Communication is critical. Be clear and specific about your expectations.

Work with the individual to define an action plan that will create change and results. Monitor this plan closely during the one-on-one sessions.

Coach the person up.

In extreme cases, where improvement isn’t forthcoming, you must make a decision that is best for everyone. It is your responsibility to make necessary changes.

 

The Take-Away

Notice that all three of the mistakes discussed can create a landslide of poor performance.

  • A lack of selling skills, training, and practice creates terrible habits in the field.
  • The absence of regular one-on-one review fails to identify deficiencies, and shortfalls early.
  • Reluctance to deal with performance shortcomings will lose respect and demoralize a team.

An effective manager will learn to be a leader, coach, and mentor to help each team member grow and succeed.

That, my friend, is the path to increased revenue.

I welcome your comments and thoughts on this subject.

Kind regards,

Fred Lewis