The role of a sales manager can be challenging and stressful, and there will inevitably be roadblocks along the way. However, you can rest assured that many of these problems are encountered by just about every sales manager, on a regular basis. Here, we take a look at five hurdles every sales manager commonly faces.
1. Stepping Back From the Front Line
In the vast majority of cases, sales managers previously worked as sales reps. Therefore, one of the first hurdles to overcome is the impulsive need to be on the front line, closing difficult sales. While there may be times when you need to get your hands dirty - so to speak - your main responsibilities include building a team and developing a coherent strategy. Learning to step back and let others thrive is a key part of the transition.
2. Lack of Sales Management Training
According to McKinsey & Company, U.S. companies alone spend more than $14 billion each year on leadership training. Yet, despite this, most training programmes are generalised and there is a shortage of tailored sales manager training programmes. The consequence of this is that many sales managers take years to truly find their feet, as they are having to learn the job as they go, with nobody to show them the ropes.
3. Retaining the Best Sales Reps
Hiring talent is one thing, but keeping hold of the best performers is a challenge commonly faced by sales managers. A high staff turnover rate is indicative of problems within your team, so pay attention and consider whether you need to make changes. The most common reasons for staff leaving include a lack of progression and poor financial compensation, so try to encourage personal development and offer appropriate rewards.
4. Making Sense of Data and Metrics
When used correctly, sales data and performance metrics can help you to identify strengths and weaknesses within your team and ultimately improve results. However, it is also easy to become swamped by masses of disorganised data, leading to chaos and confusion. The best way to overcome this particular obstacle is to take care when deciding which metrics you want to keep track of, and utilise the right software to sort data so that you can wade through it.
5. Acting as a Coach and Mentor
Last but not least, the need to act as a coach and mentor to a team is a major hurdle that many sales managers struggle with. According to research published by the Sales Executive Council, teams that receive low-quality coaching are far more likely to under-perform. It is not enough to hold regular sales training seminars - you need to constantly serve as a role model, and continuously work with reps to guide them forwards.
By Monika Götzmann, EMEA Marketing Director for MHI Global (formerly AchieveGlobal), a global sales training and customer experience company. It specialises in providing exceptional sales training courses and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership training.