10 Ways to Avoid Being a Sales Management Fool

9 min read

In the business world, credibility is key. Whether you’re in sales, finance, marketing, or IT, it’s important that your company can rely on you to get your job done and do it well. No matter your position, you’re ultimately responsible for a part of the company’s success. As a sales leader it’s important that you motivate your team because nothing kills employee morale like a bad manager.

April Fools’ Day often has a reputation for the opposite of responsibility and credibility–tricks and foolery. However, in sales, no leader wants to be considered a fool. Rather than scheming up some pranks for the office (we’ll leave that to you), we’re focusing on how you can avoid being a sales management fool with these 10 tips!


1. Give Credit Where it's Due


One of the best ways a sales leader can kill employee morale is by not giving credit to the reps who have earned it. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of accomplishment, but a shoutout or pat on the back in a company email or meeting doesn’t hurt! As a sales manager, take time to show appreciation for each reps’ individual efforts. Say thank you–it can make a bigger difference than you think!

2. Remember Employees Have Lives Outside the Office


Over recent years, there’s been a large focus on employee work-life balance. Usually, this means finding a balance between the amount of time spent in the office working and maintaining time for sales reps to live fulfilling lives outside of the office.

As a sales leader, you’re responsible for holding your team accountable for their jobs, but also ensuring they aren’t burning out or overworked, which can crush any sales rep’s motivation and morale (check out these tips on improving office morale).

3. Make Time to Check-in With Each Individual Employee


Sales leaders are the liaison between executive leaders and sales reps. While it’s important to hold team meetings to relay information, you should also be scheduling one-on-one time periodically to check in on each individual sales rep. This give reps a space to talk about individual hurdles they’re facing, and it allows you to get to know each of your employees and tailor your management style to suit their needs more effectively.

4. Encourage Idea Sharing and Innovation


If there’s one thing that helps companies grow, expand, and be successful, it’s innovation and idea sharing. As a sales leader, you should encourage the reps on your team to be open-minded and share their ideas. Having more than one view on a problem can bring new solutions to the table that management might not have considered before.

5. Personalize Your Management Style and Incentives for Each Employee

Like mentioned before, personalization goes a long way in management. When you take the time to get to know your employees individually, you learn to adapt your management style so each sales rep is supported in the best way.

An easy way to do this is through simple personalized incentives. For a job well done, give a sales rep their favorite treat or a gift card to their favorite coffee shop (here’s a list of 100 easy incentive ideas). This will help sales reps feel they are truly appreciated, and their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. It really does pay to pay attention.

6. Address Performance and Other Issues Early, Professionally, and Head-On


Confrontation is part of the job as a manager or leader, but there is definitely a right and wrong way to do it. Always try to address issues in a professional manner, preferably in a closed-door meeting with the rep in question. Any problems should be addressed head on and early on before they escalate.

Be direct with the sales rep and give them a chance to share their view of the situation. You can also use your periodic check-ins to make sure each employee is happy and issues are tackled before they get out of hand.

7. Give Your Team the Tools They Need to Succeed


It’s hard to do any job well without the basic tools you need to succeed. Take time to assess the tools you offer your sales teams, and meet with reps to get their feedback on what they need. Do the tools offer reps everything they need to move prospects through the sales funnel and close a deal? If not, start searching for the right tools for your team.

8. Do Your Best to Actively Avoid Unconscious Biases


The hardest part of avoiding unconscious bias is that it is unconscious, and most of the time, we are unaware that we’re falling victim to it. In short, unconscious biases are the likelihood of placing preference on people similar to yourself. In reality, this can hurt companies.

In our International Women’s Day blog on gender diversity in the workplace, we covered the importance of diversity in companies, especially in leadership roles and executive positions. Bringing diversity to the table can give companies an advantage by driving innovation, boosting problem solving and improving overall company success, starting with Xactly.

9. Use Constructive Criticism and Offer Alternate Solutions


Giving and/or receiving criticism is never easy. As a sales leader, it’s important that the reps on your team understand where any criticism is coming from, and that it’s all a matter of performance and nothing personal. When giving criticism, focus on explaining what can be improved and offer alternate solutions that will end in better results.

10. Express Goals, Expectations, and Each Rep’s Role Clearly


Communication is a must in any leadership position, especially when it comes to sales reps’ goals, expectations, and compensation plans. When members of your team are unclear as to what is expected of them, it can decrease morale and create frustration among reps.

Be transparent when it comes to company, team, and individual goals, so that each rep understands what their responsibilities are. As a sales leader, it can be difficult to recognize when things on your team aren’t running 100 percent smoothly.

To avoid becoming a management fool, take time to evaluate your individual performance and check in with how reps feel about your management style. The most important thing is to be aware of your team’s needs and provide them with the support and tools they need to reach their quota and company goals. Ready to avoid being a sales management fool? Learn how to compensate each sales role for success.