7 years ago
February 21, 2017

5 Reasons Your Sales Manager is Affecting Your Sales Team Negatively

A sales manager can undermine the potential of their sales team–so read on for five top reasons for negative results from your sales manager.

Rhys Metler

Under the best of circumstances, a sales manager acts as a multiplier for the output of your sales team, turning average performers into good ones and good performers into outstanding ones. But every opportunity comes with a risk attached, and there’s always the risk of a sales manager acting as a negative factor. It’s not necessarily a matter of competence or intentions; sometimes, it’s just a few mistakes adding up to bad outcomes. Whether you’re upper management, a member of a sales team, or a sales manager yourself, you’ll benefit from knowing the ways a sales manager can undermine the potential of their sales team–so read on for five top reasons for negative results from your sales manager.

Expectations Too High or Too Low.

A sales manager who misgauges the output potential of his or her sales team can have a dire impact on that team’s output. Expectations set too high lead to lowered team morale, conflict between team members, distrust of the sales manager, and higher turnover due to stress. Expectations set too low result in almost identical problems–lowered team morale, distrust of the sales manager, and higher turnover due to boredom. A good sales manager aims for a sweet spot of challenging, but possible. You want your team to stretch for their goals and meet them without exhausting themselves. Anything else has a downside.

Poor Communication.

A sales manager who fails to communicate clearly with their sales team can only cause harm. There will be errors induced by misunderstandings, then recriminations and blame shifting because everyone involved acted in good faith but achieved the wrong results. That sort of thing can quickly drive team morale into the gutter, eliminate any trust and goodwill towards the sales manager, and otherwise hinder the bottom line–no matter how good the sales manager is at determining a smart path forward or the team is at executing what they THINK the sales manager wants, it doesn’t matter if communication isn’t clear.

Ruling by Fear.

Two things can poison the relationship between a sales team and the company like no other: A sales manager who dresses team members down in public for their mistakes as an object lesson, and a sales manager who hangs the threat of unemployment over the team’s heads like the Sword of Damocles. Fear, at best, produces good short-term results. In the long term, morale breaks down, turnover skyrockets, and your bottom line suffers. If your sales manager uses threats and public shaming regularly, it needs to stop ASAP.

Playing Secretary.

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have the sales manager who has become their sales team’s secretary. The job of a sales manager is to lead, to coach, to push team members to accomplish more. But it’s entirely too common for a sales manager to get bogged down in work that should be handled by team members; filling out reports, etc. Studies show that the most effective sales managers are those who dedicate the most time to tasks like coaching. Don’t let your sales manager become a baby sitter.

No Incentives.

A sales manager may not have much control over obvious incentives like cash compensation, but there are subtler incentives that play just as important a role in worker output. For many, simple acknowledgment of their successes plays a big role in how hard they work. If a sales person does something exceptional, it should be recognized. Similarly, if a team leader asks for opinions then dismisses the answers offered, it damages morale. People need more than money as incentives to do their work–they need to feel important. A sales manager who only recognizes failures and offers no incentive to succeed or excel will end up with a team that doesn’t succeed or excel. 


Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ 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 daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.