Sales management incompetence destroys your sales team's confidence in you.
And you must have their confidence.
Your reputation is directly reflected through the quality of sales management and sales talent under your watch.
My daughter engages in the highly-competitive, athletic sport of cheerleading competition. If you have observed a cheerleading competition, you have likely seen the choreography and stunting on a competition floor. It is intense. A lot of preparation boiling down to a couple of minutes of intense choreographed stunts and teamwork.
What you may not realize is that a cheerleading competition actually begins with an important safety check prior to the the choreographed stunts. Points penalties due to safety infractions such as jewelry, hair, nails, and glitter can cost a team dearly.
Recently, my daughter shared a situation where a competing team lost the competition BEFORE they actually performed on the floor due to several safety violations. Unfortunately, several inexperienced team members violated a couple important safety rules. After the safety check penalties were levied, this particular team collectively realized that it was unlikely, even with a solid performance, that they would win or place in the competition.
Imagine the emotion! The many hours of conditioning and practice gone before the floor competition. Worse yet, this was an entirely preventable penalty!
While experienced, these coaches were seemingly incompetent.
Is your sales team hobbled before they even sell?
I have seen so many instances where the incompetence of sales management destroys the potential of the sales team. Sales is a difficult enough task already. Keeping an incompetent sales manager doesn't only mean lost sales. Incompetent sales management leads to bad sales hires and your best salespeople will not respect you.
Do you have your sales team's back or not?
You probably answered this question with, "Of course I have my sales team's back!" Not so fast... Only your salespeople can definitively say if you do or don't.
This question is not yours to answer.
There is no middle ground here. A sales manager is either a value-accelerator or destroyer. A strong sales manager can often carry an average sales team. On the other hand, a solid sales team managed by a mediocre or incompetent sales manager is going to lose sales as well as their best talent.
If you allow an incompetent sales manager or salesperson to remain on your sales team, you absolutely do not have your sales team's back.
If your sales team would boot their sales manager, given the opportunity, you don't have your sales team's back.
The stench of "never gonna get it" CEOs and VPs of Sales kills potential.
We have been brought in to help turn around a sales team. This happens particularly in large companies with multiple quasi-independent sales teams. I can assess the president of the operating company and the most senior sales team and quickly understand the condition of the sales team.
All problems start at the head and all problems walk on two feet.
"Get it" CEOs quickly sack "Never gonna get it" sales managers.
I was once hired to sell under a recently-promoted sales manager who was the perfect example of the Peter Principal. This man tried hard to play the role. He overplayed his knowledge of the business. He shared war stories of glory that we soon realized were not credible. Initially we all gave him the benefit of the doubt but soon we came to realize he was "all hat and no cattle".
To make matters worse, it became apparent that this man loved the ladies, he couldn't help close a deal if his life depended upon it, and his peers hated his guts.
Within a couple weeks, I could not take it any longer. I walked into the CEO's office and said, "I cannot work under this man." I was prepared to walk.
The CEO immediately said, "We are going to replace him. Think you can work with Steve?"
The CEO took immediate action. He was a "get it". He had my back. I stayed with this particular company until the CEO moved on.
What a "get it" CEO looks like.
A "get it" CEO:
- Possesses true business acumen.
- Is "net present value-focused" - They understand that the right action now trumps delayed action.
- Is unafraid of making the talent and process changes necessary to achieve short and long-term results.
- Ensures that ALL talent and process obstacles to sales performance are quickly removed.
- Is not conflict averse. Realizes that the emotional pain of conflict today is preferred over the slow death of their reputation over months and years.
- Realizes that their best sales talent will never tolerate management incompetence, favoritism, nor a lack of business acumen.
Do you get it?
Your reputation is at stake.
Perhaps you have been putting off the difficult decision of replacing your VP of Sales or a particular sales manager. It's time to do what you need to do. In the future, be quick about it.
If you need additional convincing, ask yourself, "Given what I know right now, would I hire / promote this person for this role again?"
If the answer is "No," then make an immediate change. Do not wait until tomorrow.
Short on headcount? It is always better to run short on headcount than to run incompetent in talent.
Your reputation and the bottom line are at stake. If you allow incompetence in your sales management, your sales wolves are going to hate you.