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8 Common Ways Sales Managers Lead Their Team to Failure

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Did you know that your effectiveness as a sales manager could determine the success of your team?

It is true. So, if you have noticed that your sales team is not performing at the level you would like, consider that your management style could be a contributing factor, or even the root of the problem.


Even if you have the best intentions, the following 8 sales management mistakes could have devastating effects on your salespeople. Take a look at each mistake and analyze your performance as a manager to determine where you can improve.

Learn from Your Sales Management Mistakes to Become a Better Leader

1. Playing favorites

This is a common problem for people who have recently transitioned from a sales position to a sales management position. They may have formed bonds with other salespeople in the department, making it difficult to not show favoritism to those people.

However, a sales manager must set aside personal biases to create a positive working environment for the entire sales team. So, if you have recently transitioned from salesperson to sales manager, remember to treat all of your team members equally and give everyone the amount of coaching they need to improve.

2. Focusing more on results than people

While sales results are important, sales managers must understand that investing in their team will pave the way to excellent sales numbers.

Too many sales managers take a different approach, relying on outdated processes and one-size-fits-all coaching methods. Instead, they should be in the trenches with their salespeople, observing them, and offering techniques that have been tailored to each person’s individual needs.

3. Failing to inspire and motivate the sales team

Salespeople often have a high desire for recognition and fun. That is why it is critical for sales managers to motivate the sales team by:

  • Creating fun sales competitions
  • Offering rewards for top salespeople (gift cards, office items, etc.)
  • Verbally recognizing salespeople who excel
  • Allowing top sales reps to lead team meetings


Get to know your salespeople, and observe how they respond to each method of motivation. From there, you can tailor your efforts based on which method works the best for the individuals on your team.

4. Hiring the wrong salespeople

If you do not consistently hire Driven salespeople, you cannot expect top sales results from your team. That is why hiring the wrong salespeople is one of the worst sales management mistakes you can make.

Here are a few ways to improve your hiring process so you can choose salespeople that have the necessary skill set and potential to succeed at your company:

Also, you will want to make sure that every salesperson you hire is a good fit for your company culture. That’s because salespeople who are a poor fit for the company culture will likely quit, forcing you to deal with the consequences of employee turnover.

Tip: Check out this blog post to learn the true cost of hiring the wrong salesperson.

5. Spending too much time coaching low-performing salespeople

As a sales manager, you may think that your time is well-spent coaching your poorest performers. However, that is not the case.

Think about it – your top performers likely have the most potential to improve and drive revenue for the company, so they need your attention to become even better at selling.

Your middle-of-the-road performers need your attention too. You may even find that, with a bit of coaching, they rise up and become top performers.

While you should still offer coaching to your lowest-performing salespeople, make sure you are not spending too much time on them. Get to know your entire team so you can determine how to properly allocate your time in coaching each person.

6. Failing to teach the team about new products/services

If you fail to educate your team on the benefits and features of a new product, you are likely to see disastrous results when it is time for them to start selling it.


Because you cannot expect salespeople to sell a product that they do not understand. If they try to sell it anyway, they will likely find themselves unable to persuade their prospect to purchase the product.


So, make plenty of time for training every time a new product or service is launched, and let your sales team know that you are available to answer any questions. Yes, this will take up some of your valuable time, but it is worth knowing that your team possesses the knowledge necessary to succeed.

7. Failing to invest in sales team training

Do not only train your team when your company decides to offer new products and/or services. For the best results, salespeople need ongoing training. If you are not quite convinced, these statistics may change your mind:

  • According to Training Industry, without systematic, ongoing learning and reinforcement, approximately 50% of learning content is not retained within five weeks.
  • In an ATSD survey, 65% of employees said the quality of training and learning opportunities positively influenced their engagement.
  • According to CSO Insights, firms where salespeople use the company’s methodology and get ongoing coaching see 73% quota attainment.

Remember – even your most seasoned salespeople can benefit from ongoing training, so make sure you do not leave them out when it is time to train.

Tip: Check out this blog post to learn the difference between bad sales training and effective sales training.

8. Being un-accepting of individual differences within the team

The saying “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” could not be any further from the truth when it comes to your sales team.

As a sales manager, you should understand that each of your salespeople have their own special skill set and approach to selling. Instead of trying to get everyone to approach sales the exact same way, capitalize on each salesperson’s strengths while coaching them to help improve their weaknesses.

Also, keep in mind that you should avoid addressing an isolated incident with one salesperson by creating correctional policies that apply to your entire team. While it may be uncomfortable to have a one-on-one disciplinary conversation with a salesperson, doing so is a much better choice than negatively affecting your entire team with a blanket policy.

Sales management is a tough job – there is no doubt about it. However, that does not excuse making management mistakes that drag salespeople down and hinder them from achieving top sales results.

Make sure you are prioritizing the success of your salespeople every day and continually inspiring them to succeed. When salespeople are motivated by a manager they respect, they are much more likely to perform well.

Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®. Get started now with one free test.

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