Blog Article

SALES MANAGERS - A CRITICAL ROLE,
YET ALLOWED TO BE CRAP

All our experience of working with sales operations over 35 years tells us that there is a direct correlation between sales manager effectiveness and team performance.  We can safely say that a good sales manager means a well performing team, just as a poor sales manager means a poorly performing team, (sometimes irrespective of the quality of the team).

Yet if you asked senior management what qualities and skills a sales manager needs, or what activities they should focus on, you get very different answers. 

And some are allowed to be destructive in trying to get a sales team to perform. Recognise any of this?

  • Sell not Manage
  • Criticise not Coach
  • Pressure not Direction
  • Blame not Develop

Unlike many other professional roles, there are no clear standards or guidelines for the practices that should be common to all sales management and fewer companies can afford to have in-house programs that assess sales managers for the role, provide the right training and set clear standards for capability as well as results.

Angry Manager

A starting point to achieving better sales performance through your sales managers would be;

  • Set clear standards for the role (we can provide you with a brief list if you contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • Provide training to ensure sales managers have the right skills
  • Measure and assess how well a potential (or current) sales manager meets these standards
  • Measure effectiveness as well as results
  • Provide the feedback and support that every sales manager needs

Remember that KPI’s are not standards.  They are measures.  In any sales operation you need to get two things right; quantity and quality.  Quantity – are we doing enough of the rights things?  Quality – are we doing them sufficiently skilfully to win our share of the business?  Sales KPI’s tend to measure only quantity, such as activity and results.

Some sales operations look at and help sales people with skills, but how many measure how well a sales manager coaches, directs and develops their team?  Without measures of capability we are unable to isolate and fix sales management issues and we hear broad excuses about people, the market, pricing, competition etc.

And that’s the problem.  Many sales managers are allowed to be crap – and to be fair to those managers, they are having to do the job by instinct and those instincts are nearly always established competencies, like selling and dealing with customers, not improving the performance of a team.  A prime cause of this is that sales managers are selected on sales ability, which is very different from being skilful in getting the best from others.

Peter Fullbrook
Managing Director – Prosell Pty LtdPeter Fullbrook
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Prosell provides training and coaching for call centre, customer service and sales management teams in retail and corporate sales across Australia - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, New Zealand & Asia Pacific.

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