Sales Managers' problems - how to deal with them
The reason for existence of a sales manager is to get a sales team to produce good results. It follows that the greatest problem a sales manager faces is when this is not happening.
There are many potential reasons; market conditions may be difficult, your product may be uncompetitive through lacking features or being more expensive than that of the competition or it may be that the sales team is failing to do enough of the right things to generate sales.
The first two factors can be outside of your control, but the last one isn't, it's what a sales manager is paid to keep a grip on.
Let's first review what a good sales team does to produce orders. The work can be divided between maintaining and increasing business from existing customers and finding new clients.
Working with existing customers is the easier of the two; you know the people concerned, what they are interested in and the history of the business you have done together.
Converting new prospects into clients is harder because before they have had dealings with you they tend to be cautious, making it harder to obtain a meeting, and if you succeed at that, they will want to test you out with a modest order at a very keen price.
Prospecting for new customers can be disheartening because of the many put-offs you will encounter. Prospects are 'not in', 'unavailable', 'on the telephone', 'in a meeting' and so on.
The Sales Manager's job is to show effective ways to deal with such problems and encourage sales staff to persist in the face of these difficulties. Helping demoralized salespeople through a bad patch is important, without encouragement, it can be tempting to quit.
Similarly keeping control of 'difficult' characters is necessary and often very challenging. Discipline has to be maintained, an easy-going sales manager will find that some members of the sales team fail to stick to the requirements that have been established.
There will be times when the sales manager has to exert absolute authority. Only individuals with the appropriate personal traits will be able to do this. As a consequence, the degree of friendship possible between a sales manager and the members of the sales team is limited. It can be a lonely job.
The greatest aid a sales manager can have is the respect of his team. To acquire it, he / she must demonstrate that they can sell well themselves; they must also know solutions to the problems that the line salespeople are facing.
Sales meetings provide an opportunity to have a 'clinic' on dealing with any challenges encountered recently. It may be that a salesperson has failed to resolve a customer 'objection' and this has lost a potential sale. The skilled sales manager will know appropriate answers to all common objections.
The output of a sales team, measured in the value of sales closed, is always related to the input of effort on the precursor stages of the sale process. This is why the sales manager must implement a system to measure the number of sales attempts made and the proportion of them that are successful.
Sales management is difficult, but for the successful, the rewards are commensurately large, both in the satisfaction at accomplishing a difficult task and financially.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.
Questions/comments - drop me a line at