3 years ago
January 5, 2015

7 Reasons Why Sales Managers Fail

Following are seven reasons why sales managers can fail, and what your organization can do to help prevent sales manager failure.

Rhys Metler

Many stories about sales managers failing begin with a top sales person being promoted into the role. So why do sales managers fail? The answer depends on the processes in place to prevent sales manager failure from happening. Following are seven reasons why sales managers can fail, and what your organization can do to help prevent sales manager failure.

1. Misalignment

In an ideal world, sales managers and executives would be able to communicate with perfect clarity at all times. In the physical world, misalignment is a pitfall that often underlies the immediate causes for why sales managers fail. Your organization can avoid this by seeking clarity on mission, goals, and strategies beginning with the hiring process.

2. Missing Buy-In

Sales managers fail when not all members of the sales team are fully invested in the success of the team. Having even one sales person on the team expressing doubts to others can have a negative impact on morale. Be sure to avoid this reason why sales managers fail by working with your sales people on a group and on an individual basis to achieve full commitment to success from all players.

3. Ambiguous Job Descriptions

If the job descriptions for the sales manager and the positions reporting to that role are ambiguous sales managers fail. To be successful, sales managers must have a clear idea of their role and how far their authority extends to be effective. This also applies to the sales team, as a sales manager must be able to define the duties, responsibilities, and extent of authority of each of the sales people and support staff under his or her supervision. Without these definitions, sales managers fail because there are no examples to follow.

4. Poor Fit for the Role

Sales managers fail when the sales manager role is not an ideal fit. However, it can be difficult to identify fit for an individual who has never held a similar role before. Give consideration to:

  • Selling. Few sales managers spend a great deal of time actively selling. For a top sales person, this might not be an ideal fit.
  • Management. It takes a different skill set to successfully manage a sales team than it does to perform these duties in other management roles.
  • Leadership. In any industry, filling this role with individuals who are not strong leaders with great management skills is a common reason why sales managers fail.

5. Administration Overload

Many sales managers fail because they do not have enough time to interact with, coach, and mentor the sales team. This is not always because of time management; in some cases, “overadministration” may be requiring the sales manager to spend too much time on day to day paperwork and routine tasks. Delegation to support staff and sales people ready to learn skills to advance can help in this area.

6. Leaking Sales Pipelines

If there are no customer relationship management processes in place sales managers fail because the sales team’s activities are failing to advance in the sales pipeline. Sales managers can also fail if there is such a system in place and the guidelines for using the system are not consistently enforced. To avoid this reason for why sales managers fail, make sure that your organization has processes to prevent sales pipelines from “leaking,” and make the expectations for use of such a system clear to sales managers and the sales people executing the pipeline.

7. Outdated Compensation Plans

Yes, sales managers fail if the organization’s compensation plan is not competitive! Consider:

  • A strong compensation plan attracts top tier talent to support success.
  • A well-developed compensation plan encourages sales people to perform.
  • Higher turnover will result from outdated compensation plans, causing further disruptions.

Don’t let sales managers fail with your organization due to a compensation plan that is ready for change. Be proactive about restructuring compensation plans when and where necessary.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.