Why Traditional Sales Management Doesn't Work Anymore


One question I get over and over again from the business's I work with is "Where can I find a decent Sales Manager?" It's an interesting one because the structure of a sales managers role often makes it very hard to succeed in that role - especially if they are required to sell.

You see the thing is...

Sales Managers need to be sales coaches - neither of which sales managers are trained for or made accountable for in today's market.

In a tight market Sales Managers are often too busy seeing clients to support the sales team adequately.

If their job description doesn't mandate that they are selling to clients most sales managers simply are not coaches they are more like "sales figure accountants".

With the huge lack of quality sales people available, unless sales people receive adequate coaching and support they will leave wasting huge amounts of resources, talent and jeopardising valuable client relationships.

This article might not exactly win me too many friends because it contains some realities that many business people don't want to know about.

Regardless, I would be ripping you off if I didn't relate my experience here...

After all it just wouldn't feel right for me not to pass on my observations from my work in this CRITICAL area.

8 years ago, about 18 months after I started working with Sales teams, I started to see a definite pattern in terms of the companies we worked with that were getting the biggest shifts in their results...

At that point we were working with dozens of sales people across a stack of different companies in a diverse range of industries and markets.

The pattern, the common factors in the companies that did the Best (and still do the best today) with our training were this...

  1. They had a strong leader who was pro-active and held the teams accountable in between the sessions we were running with the team.
  2. They had some type of coaching , mentoring, team or sporting background.
  3. They had a strong sales background.

By default, these key attributes all stack up to a winning formula for a sales manager's profile but sadly, this only really happens by chance and rarely by design.

The traditional mindset around sales management is simply not working today and here's the key reasons why...

Sales management cannot simply be looking at sales figures.

If you are to get the best out of a team of sales people you MUST be meeting with each sales person on a regular basis (every two weeks minimum) one on one.

Read about the successful coaches and their philosophies to working with successful teams and you will discover that they are meeting with players one on one as much, if not more than they address the team as a group.

And in the one on one sessions there is support, coaching and encouragement that goes way beyond simply looking at the numbers.

Naturally, this assumes you have the best people possible on your team to begin with that are WORTH investing this time into which conversely ensures they are more likely to stay with your company. (more about THAT in a sec).

Coaching involves being able to, in a trusting way, help sales people overcome blockages in performance to get them to the
next level of performance.

Either your sales manager is equipped and trained to do this or you need to get or hire someone else who can.

I have left this point till last on purpose.

You may be thinking all this extra coaching is going to be time consuming and costly.

Well let's look at that in context for a minute...

If you actually provide structured sales coaching for your sales team, there is the obvious boost in performance by helping them dissolve blockages and holding them accountable, however an even bigger potential return is possible in the retention of great sales people in your business.

At the end of the day, if you have a team of top performing, happy, well trained sales people who are energised and ready to perform for you the money you will save in retraining and recruitment alone will well and truly pay for itself.

John Blake
[email protected]



John Blake has been in direct sales for the past 22 years. Over this time John has been a highly successful sales person, sales manager and business owner.

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