Breaking Through Sales Management Mediocracy

There’s a new trend emerging in the world of sales management. More people believe sales managers matter and that they can be the difference maker! It’s about time that awakening happened. Now the hunt is on to find ways to break through old sales management routines that don’t appear to net results. Think about it…

What would happen if: 

  • Managers knew what they could do that would make a measurable impact on an individual’s sales performance?
  • Managers had the skills required to drive breakthrough performance?
  • Managers stayed focused on driving the sales behaviors and activities that matter most?
  • Managers were passionate and committed to taking each salesperson to a higher level of performance?
  • The vision can become reality if the following three priorities are pursued.

Know What Great Looks Like
Sales managers don’t know the difference between mediocre and great sales management. Many, if not most, are managing the way they were managed — which leaves huge gaps. Most know what to get done, but few know the key tactics that make a measurable impact. We continue to see mediocre behavior, not because sales managers want to be mediocre but because they don’t know what great looks like.

  •  Tackle Sales Execution
    Mediocracy: Assumes training will fix the problem, leaves performance issues alone as long as team is performing, feels they’ve done what they can by repeating expected results.
  • Drive Focus, Execution, And Accountability 
    Mediocracy: Does activities such as one-on-ones and joint sales calls but with little or no consciousness of what value the activities should provide or how to have more impact when doing the activities.
  • Motivate And Inspire High Performance
    Mediocracy: Relies on incentive programs, sales goals, and reports to get attention.
  • Hire Top Sales Talent
    Mediocracy: Hires based on gut and keeps nonperformers.

Doing Tough Stuff Well
Doing tough stuff well sounds obvious but it’s not. We’re talking about difficult skills that impact performance: productively holding salespeople accountable, motivating a diverse workforce, challenging resistance or cultural norms, and modeling change.

Mediocracy is the outcome when managers view or treat activities as just a checklist and don’t have the skills to make these activities valuable. For example, managers know they should do a post call debrief after a joint call but don’t fully diagnose performance or productively hold an individual accountable to executing the activities that matter most.

Breakthrough outcomes come from how well activities get done. Everyone can swing a bat, those that swing well score. The same applies in sales management. Doing activities well really does matter. Getting great requires knowledge of and focus on what must be done well, passion to make a measurable difference, and the means and commitment to develop the skills required to be effective.

Focus on What Matters Most
The ability to determine what sales behaviors or activities matter most for each individual salesperson and then focusing all efforts to get those executed consistently is what separates the best from the rest.

Having helped many sales managers add more value and drive results throughout my career, it no longer surprises me to see how little managers truly understand about the game they are expected to coach. It is critical that sales managers know the right prospects and customers to call, what needs to be done well when engaging with prospects and customers, and what the call or pipeline level needs to be in order to hit sales goals. Without that knowledge and diagnosis of the right data, sales managers behave traditionally and default to the most common tactics — make more calls, attend more training, or tantalize with incentives and contests. That’s not breakthrough.

Where do you begin the breakthrough journey? Start with not accepting mediocracy and choosing to take on one of the three priorities. Challenge yourself and your team to get breakthrough!


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