101 Sales Management Truths

  1. Your organization will never be any stronger than the salespeople you recruit, select and hire and how effectively they are initially trained, coached and ultimately retained.
  2. A great salesperson who is poorly managed is no better than a poor salesperson managed well.
  3. Invest your time where it counts. With your highest performing or highest potential salespeople.
  4. You can’t manage or lead a sales team from behind a desk.
  5. The greatest sales managers are the greatest identifiers and recruiters of top talent.
  6. You can’t lead where you won’t go and you can’t teach what you don’t know.
  7. Effective sales managers are scouting for talented salespeople even if their roster is full.
  8. Hire salespeople with caution, launch them with clarity and eliminate poor ones with great dispatch.
  9. Pay plans are essential to sales success and will, ultimately, determine how much of what gets sold.
  10. Top salespeople consistently sell high volume at high margin.
  11. A good interview is like a good sale. The candidate does most of the talking.
  12. Don’t hire a salesperson until you observe them in social situations.
  13. Turnover in a sales force is normal and to be expected. No turnover is bad and too high a turnover is even worse.
  14. Effective sales managers have a lead management system in place.
  15. Don’t allow digital tools or data gathering for other departments to dominate a sales team’s life and stifle their creativity.
  16. You can’t motivate salespeople; you can only create an environment wherein they motivate themselves.
  17. No salesperson will ever perform to any level of meaningful performance where expectations are not clearly established, communicated and verified for understanding.
  18. Performance counts in sales. However, accountability really pays.
  19. A sales team will never perform any better than the way they are led and managed.
  20. The three components of effective sales management are leadership, supervision and management.
  21. The best form of leadership for sales managers is to lead by example. The weakest is to lead by position.
  22. Allowing too many sales contests to be run can be counterproductive. The result will only be having too few winners and too many losers.
  23. Poor sales managers create a situation where salespeople compete against other salespeople. Great sales managers allow salespeople to compete against their own previous best.
  24. You can only observe a salesperson’s real effectiveness in the field. You cannot do it through reports, statistics or even through simply tracking results.
  25. In-process measurement is far superior to end-process measurement. If you wait to judge sales performance solely on results, it’s too late.
  26. The best sales managers are inspiring.
  27. Never miss an opportunity to coach, train, correct, observe, praise, provide feedback or course correct a salesperson’s performance.
  28. Effective sales management means a high prospect to customer closing ratio and an enthusiastic, well-paid sales team.
  29. Sales management means just that – part sales and part management. However, they’re not equal parts. Sales managers are managers first.
  30. Great salespeople don’t always make great sales managers. In fact, they usually don’t.
  31. Effective sales managers are systematic thinkers who know how to implement street-smart, practical and usable strategies with their sales teams.
  32. Powerful sales managers know it’s not always what you say that is important. What is important is how you say it.
  33. You only get consistent results from salespeople by holding them accountable for their own goals, actions, activities and results.
  34. Sales managers who are doing their jobs understand the day-to-day problems salespeople face and develop processes and systems to reduce or eliminate them.
  35. Effective sales management means helping salespeople with difficult sales and customer problems.
  36. Successful sales managers want their salespeople to look good at every possible opportunity.
  37. Knowing how to help salespeople manage their time and maximize the potential of their territory is a characteristic of the best sales managers.
  38. Effective sales managers minimize the amount of busy work that is required from their sales team.
  39. Leadership is inspiring salespeople to achieve peak performance.
  40. Management is the establishment of standards and procedures while supervision is holding salespeople accountable for meeting those standards. Both are essential for good sales management.
  41. Sales managers who are most effective are not afraid to show their own humanity and weaknesses.
  42. Great sales managers know where to draw the line between being too friendly and too distant. Knowing where that line is often determines the difference between greatness and mediocrity.
  43. Good sales managers empower their sales team to believe that they are better than they really are. And then they coach them to legitimately be that good.
  44. Teaching occurs in the classroom. Coaching occurs in the field. You need to do both in order to get salespeople to maximize their capacities.
  45. Allowing salespeople to establish their own sales goals is powerful and productive. Salespeople then take ownership for achieving what they, themselves, have committed to doing.
  46. Sales managers have to spend time with salespeople in order to help them implement strategies and tactics. They can’t be left on their own to do it.
  47. A salesperson who receives no feedback is like a directionless ship. It has no idea where it has been, where it is going or how to get there.
  48. A great sales manager is like a great coach. You must place the right player in the right place at the right time.
  49. Sales managers must have the responsibility to perform and the authority to act and then be willing to be held accountable for their own actions and results.
  50. It is far easier to demotivate than it is to motivate. Powerful sales managers are always conscious of what they say and how it is interpreted.
  51. Salespeople must be given the authority to negotiate price, terms and conditions to the level that is commensurate with their experience and capabilities.
  52. Sales managers who are self-confident allow salespeople to observe them selling and then solicit feedback from the salespeople who watch them sell.
  53. If you want to become extremely proficient at something, teach it. That includes sales.
  54. The most powerful thing a sales manager can do is to go on joint calls and then conduct curbside coaching sessions with salespeople.
  55. Never pass up an opportunity to praise a salesperson in front of other salespeople, managers, customers, prospects or the salesperson’s family.
  56. Sales managers who are on top of their game never stop studying sales, salespeople or the sales profession.
  57. Leading a group of salespeople is like no other management position in the world. They are more difficult, demanding and free spirited than any other group. Yet, they are also more appreciative and genuine.
  58. Effective sales managers never act on hearsay or rumor. Instead, they research the facts and act on them in a timely manner.
  59. Treat all salespeople fairly. However, don’t treat them all the same. Each one is unique. Treat them that way.
  60. Salespeople learn from what they experience and do, not just from what they hear.
  61. Sales flies on the wings of words. Powerful sales managers ensure that each sales team member can utilize the words that reflect the philosophy and positioning of the organization and its products and services.
  62. Sales managers should serve as the link between sales and marketing departments and must ensure that both departments understand and communicate with one another.
  63. Salespeople learn as much from mistakes as they do from successes. Probably more. Turn defeats into opportunities to coach, mentor and teach.
  64. Salespeople are looking for powerful role models. One of those role models should be their sales manager.
  65. Salespeople expect and deserve timely feedback. That’s why schedules and time lines are essential and must always be met.
  66. Never postpone, cancel or overlook a scheduled training session, performance review, appraisal, or scheduled feedback session with a salesperson.
  67. Respected sales managers are punctual and timely with all promised documents, reports and related items for salespeople.
  68. Effective sales managers never take credit for ideas that were originally developed by members of their sales team.
  69. Good sales managers never say, “Do it because I said so.” Instead, they give good reasons and a solid rationale behind each of their directives.
  70. Salespeople need to know the “why” behind every “how.”
  71. Sales managers who get the best from their sales team know that sales education and training never stops for them or their sales team.
  72. Productive sales managers never say or do anything in haste. They stop and think about the ramifications of their words and acts before saying or doing anything.
  73. Respected sales managers are people of their word. They never make a promise or commitment to a salesperson that they can’t keep.
  74. Good sales managers are marketplace, product and service experts. They possess unique understanding and wisdom related to how to sell their product or service and the unique value it brings to customers.
  75. Marketplace know-how and an in-depth understanding of competitors, suppliers, associations, trade organizations and all their constituencies is essential for good sales management.
  76. Successful sales managers work on their sales team and not in them. There is a big difference.
  77. Sales managers who build great sales teams manage their own time well so that they always have time to invest with each team member.
  78. Powerful sales managers conduct regular sales meetings and always invest time in those meetings for communication, product knowledge enhancement and sales skills training for salespeople.
  79. Sales managers who understand that the last thing to meddle with is a salesperson’s income tend to have more productive salespeople.
  80. Sales managers need to understand that there has never been a compensation plan developed anywhere, by anyone or any organization that has made every salesperson happy.
  81. Salespeople need to be compensated on things over which they have control (sales) – not over things which they have no control (net profit).
  82. Never energize incompetence. Motivation without education or meaningful skill development yields nothing but frustration.
  83. Sales managers need to understand that communication can be your greatest tool. It can also be your worst enemy. So manage it carefully.
  84. Sales managers who succeed understand the power of high expectations and constant feedback to salespeople relative to those expectations.
  85. The best sales managers know the power of appropriate attire and ensure that both they and their salespeople always dress accordingly.
  86. Great sales managers know that the best way around a problem, dilemma, difficulty, or challenge is often to head straight through it.
  87. Good sales managers know that education is better than ignorance no matter what the price.
  88. Powerful sales managers don’t major in minors. They do the right things more often.
  89. The best sales managers know how important fun, humor and a playful attitude are to their salespeople.
  90. Great sales managers deal with fact and performance instead of rumor, bias or stereotypes.
  91. A non-responsive sales manager quickly loses the respect of salespeople. These are organizations where projects, ideas, feedback, promises, solicited input and details never seem to get implemented. Instead, they go into a black hole. Avoid this at all costs.
  92. Successful sales managers work harder than the salespeople who report to them. Becoming a sales manager doesn’t mean less work. It means more.
  93. Don’t allow forms, reports, data, checklists or information gathering to stifle a sales team’s creativity.
  94. The most effective sales managers know the progress and status of every prospect and customer each salesperson is working with on a daily basis.
  95. Good sales managers expect salespeople to be able to describe and explain what they do and how they do it. They understand that if a salesperson cannot explain something they can’t do it.
  96. Intellectual understanding of sales is critical. However, outstanding sales managers know that the best salespeople have a deep and passionate understanding of selling that is far deeper than merely an intellectual grasp of it.
  97. Great sales managers ensure their salespeople have a linked, sequential sales process to follow and then ensure that salespeople follow it.
  98. The best sales managers know that what motivates them may not motivate each individual salesperson.
  99. Sales managers who succeed are consistent in the way they respond to issues, problems and concerns. Salespeople don’t like or need volatility. They covet predictability.
  100. Fantastic sales managers are like fantastic coaches. They can spot talent, recruit the right people, coach, train and retain champions. And they do it year after year.
  101. Superstar sales managers invest their time with responsive people. They don’t waste valuable time with people who refuse to respond.

BONUS

Sales managers who succeed know how to celebrate success, learn from failures and sustain positive, productive momentum with the right people.