SALES

17 Ways to Mismanage Your Sales Team

Business owners sometimes make these common revenue-killing mistakes. Make sure you know how to steer clear.
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Want to make sure that everyone on your sales team is ready to jump ship for your competition? Implement one of these all-too-common sales management "strategies."

1. Keep them uninformed. Update your website without telling the sales team, so that the customers can tell them what’s new in your product set.

2. Undercut their prices. Offer a better price to customers on your website than the sales team can offer directly to face-to-face customers.

3. Overstaff the team. Hire more sales reps than your likely level of sales can support–and have all of them compete for the same business.

4. Play favorites. Save all the best leads for the top rep. Then send the lousy leads to the rest of the team, just in case they get lucky.

5. Under-equip the team. Fail to provide your sales team with sample products–especially if demonstrating those products is necessary to closing a sale.

6. Over-market your brand. Spend big money on marketing campaigns that have no tie-in to the products that the sales team must actually sell.

7. Raise unreasonable expectations. Encourage the sales team to sell a product, even though it is currently unavailable or on back-order indefinitely.

8. Let 'em fly blind. Set an ambitious sales target or quota, but fail to devise or communicate a sales strategy that will make it achievable.

9. Reward unrealistic enthusiasm. Openly praise sales reps who set unachievable targets while demeaning reps who set practical ones.

10. Create speed bumps. Devise an incomprehensible compensation plan, and then make the sales rep figure it out in order to get paid.

11. Bait and switch, version 1. After hiring a sales rep, change the compensation plan in a way that drastically reduces the commissions that are actually paid.

12. Bait and switch, version 2. Have the sales rep build up business in a big account then declare it a ‘house account’ that doesn’t pay a commission.

13. Change your mind. Often. Change your target market every few weeks, thereby rendering useless any progress made toward the former target.

14. Hang 'em out to dry. Release products that aren’t sufficiently debugged or field-worthy, and leave the sales team to take the heat from angry customers.

15. Fail to provide support, version 1. Release a new product but provide the team with no case histories or product-specific tools and training.

16. Fail to provide support, version 2. Don't do any market research, thereby leaving the team to figure out how to fight off competitors.

17: Demand busywork. Overload the team with administrative work and CRM tools that consume time that could be better spent selling.

Readers: Any other ways to mismanage a sales team come to mind?

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Last updated: Mar 9, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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