Sales Essentials Blog

Stop Throwing Sales People and Sales Managers into the Deep End

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Isn’t it about time we stop throwing our sales people and sales managers in the deep end and expecting them to swim – or sell and lead with no support or training in this case? Isn’t it about time that we had frank conversations with our potential recruits about what sales and sales manager roles really entail and make sure our recruits really do have the skills, mindset and knowledge to take on the role in question and not just take their word that they say they do?

There is enough information informing and instructing us on how to recruit, induct, train and coach our sales people and sales managers yet too many businesses still take too many short cuts. Many organisations’ managers, CEOs and business leaders are still throwing people in these roles with little preparation expecting them to succeed and then wonder why they feel really annoyed and frustrated when these people don’t make it.

What is the cost to us and our businesses of not putting in place the right foundations first? Well frankly the costs are astronomical. Let’s just start with the obvious: cost of a new recruit failing (at least 5-6 times their total employment costs within 6 months), obvious financial impact on sales, erosion of team morale, and poor customer experiences to name a few, which eventually lead to the more subtle issues: poor perception of a company’s brand, loss of staff and further impairment of recruitment which further erodes company reputation in the eyes of current staff, potential recruits and buyers. And all this of course, impacts a business’ financial success.

We lose so much when we leave our sales capability, our sales engine, sales talent, and sales results to chance when we throw our sales people and sales managers in the deep end. Admittedly some do make it but not by design and then the cycle repeats itself. Your new recruits learn bad habits and when they become managers they endorse “sink or swim” all over again with the new recruits.

Of course it would be ideal from the outset that everyone entering into a sales or sales management role would know what their role entails and how they are matched in terms of capability from the outset. What a wonderful world it would be if these recruits knew exactly what initial steps to take to master their role and knew they had the support from managers by way of coaching and training to become very effective. Even better would be the recruit being given clear expectations, measures and consequences to gauge and track performance.

All it takes is a clear vision of what you want and courage to act from the business leaders and managers. A couple of very relevant quotes spring to mind: Charles Dubois said ‘The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” or Gandhi ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Another quote that springs to mind too is ‘Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’.

We all know that change rarely goes smoothly. When we’re in the thick of it we find it hard to see the good; the end goal. This is because so much of what was familiar to us, albeit messy and unstructured, is being replaced with something more stable and replicable.

So if you want better sales people, better sales managers and better sales results you know what to do:

  • improve your definition of what good sales and sales management performance looks like;
  • commit to better recruitment practices which allows us to select a better standard of salesperson and sales manager;
  • resolve to provide clearer performance expectations, standards and measures;
  • give better coaching in the field and performance management

Not only will you have better sales managers and results, you’ll have happier sales people, staff and customers.

So, what are you waiting for?

Author: Sue Barrett, 


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