Too many companies lose money because their sales management team continues to make the same preventable mistakes. These common mistakes result in poor sales performance. The following are some of the most common sales management mistakes:

1. Confuse Product Training for Sales Training – Companies spend thousands of dollars and their sales people spend countless hours every year trying to keep up with all the new bells and whistles of their latest products. Unfortunately, this leaves fewer hours in the month for any sales development training.

Sometimes a better allocation of resources is train your sales people how to uncover your prospects’ pain instead of memorizing another training manual. If anything, too much product knowledge can be your worst enemy, because your sales people regurgitate everything they know in the sales call instead of using that time to qualify or probe for information.

2. Hire Only Experienced Reps – Experience can be a great asset, but often it’s not. Too many reps have sold for years, but still possess terrible selling skills. They carry a lot of baggage, are difficult to manage, and use a lot of outdated sales techniques.

Find the hungry rep who wants to improve, and isn’t complacent. When interviewing, find out what they have done in the past year to further their career and improve their sales skills.

3. Promote Top Salespeople to Management – Companies love to promote their top sales person to management. Unfortunately, this cuts twice because you take your best rep out of the field, and they may not be a good manager. Often top producers lack patience and understanding for individuals who may require more time and effort.

A better choice might be the consistent producer that demonstrates a propensity to work well with others. They are organized, well-prepared, and communicate well. If you have a person in mind, have them lead a sales meeting to see how well they present, and how well they are received.

4. No Ongoing Training – You attend school until you are 18 at the very least, yet you don’t find it necessary to continue practicing your selling skills or learn new techniques. Sales are the lifeblood of every company, and it should be treated that way.

By not providing ongoing sales training, your sales people earn less, your company’s earnings suffer, and ultimately you jeopardize the future of your company.

Whether in sports, arts, or business; the top performers always strive harder to improve their skills.

5. No Accountability – Bill Brooks, one of my favorite sales speakers before he recently passed, used to say, “Don’t let the inmates run the asylum.” Too many sales managers make the excuse of not investing in sales training because they don’t believe their sales team will utilize it. Worse yet, they leave the decision up to each sales person.

If you are a manager or small business owner, you are the coach and leader of your team. It’s your job to make sure your team is prepared to find new business, up sell current customers, and outsell the competition. This means you need to set the tone of what is expected. If reps won’t adhere to your standards, they need to go.

6. Hire Poorly - A good rule of thumb, “hire slowly.” Hiring a bad salesperson often costs companies tens and hundreds of thousands in expenses and lost revenue. You should constantly be looking for good sales people, so when the opportunity arises, you aren’t scrambling to find qualified candidates.

In addition, take the time and expense to check references, provide job placement tests, and ask the right questions in order to hire a top sales person. Taking care of the seemingly little things can pay big dividends.

7. No Sales Training Budget – If you don’t provide your team with the tools and training they need to succeed, don’t blame them when sales are down or inconsistent.

There are actually investment firms who evaluate companies based on how much they train their employees. They have discovered that companies who consistently invest in training for their employees outperform those that don’t make a commitment to training.

8. Lack of Planning and Organization – You need to make sure your sales team comes prepared to sell everyday. Here are some of the things they should always have:

• A list of their key accounts, and their strategy on how to penetrate, up sell, and/or retain them.
• Their daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activity they must do to achieve quota.
• A complete understanding of the sales process.
• An automated follow up system.
• A clear understanding of the next step for each potential prospect.
• The name and position of each prospect’s decision maker(s) and influencer(s).

At the end of every month sales people are scrambling to close business. As a result, companies lose a lot of money because the sales department caves on price just to make quota. With some organization and planning, you will be involved in more deals, and win more business at higher prices.

9. Don’t Practice – Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure gets you closer to it. There is simply too much competition and alternatives in today’s marketplace for sales reps not to be prepared for every sales call.

Take an hour out of every week to role play how you would: respond to objections, ask probing questions, ask for the sale, give presentations, make mock initial and follow up phone calls, etc. This will result in big dividends.

10. No Sales Process – A clear sales methodology needs to be communicated and adhered to by your sales team. With a clear sales process, you and your sales rep always know where you are with each account.

Mastering a sales process is far better, and results in fewer mistakes compared to just “winging it.” A sales process also makes it much easier to train new reps.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author: Eric Slife is president of Slife Sales Training, Inc. They specialize in providing a comprehensive online sales training program that can be customized to fit a businesses sales team’s specific needs regardless of size. Visit their website today and receive a complimentary MP3 download, Top 10 Voicemail Blunders.