Deadly sins for sales teams

Is your sales team firing on all cylinders? Take a step back to make sure you're not making any of these mistakes.

It's easy to spend whole days and weeks tied up in the urgent matters of day-to-day operations. But if you don't take a few minutes to step back and look at the big picture, you may be overlooking problems that are crippling your company.

Let's focus on your sales team. The five mistakes below are the most common errors I see companies making. Take just a little time to focus on not doing these, and you'll see big rewards.

1. Don't Drown Them in Paperwork

Any form your reps fill out should lead directly to a sale. If it doesn't, get rid of it. It's amazing how quickly "paperwork creep" can set in; look out especially for unnecessary paperwork requests from non-sales departments. Unless well justified, resist these requests. They disrupt the sales process and take up your reps' precious time.

2. Don't Bog Reps Down in Pointless Sales Meetings

Who doesn't want to put on a fun sales meeting? It's tempting to try to win reps' approval with entertaining presentations and what you think is motivational, but remember: The only reason to have a sales meeting to increase sales. Period.

One trick to use: For each sales meeting, have a statement of strategic intent with success metrics. For example: "This sales meeting will teach our reps to sell Product X—and we will have been successful when 80 percent of our reps reach their quota within 30 days of the meeting."

If your high performers are sitting in the audience thinking, "This is going to make me money!" then that's a good meeting.

3. Don't Play Favorites

Managers who play favorites send a strong message to their team: The playing field at this company isn't level. It's natural to hit it off with certain sales representatives, but blatantly demonstrations will always demoralize the rest of the sales team.

Hold your best performers in high regard, but avoid heaping praise on one or two reps without recognizing other deserving members of your team.

4. Don't Underestimate the Power of Morale

Speaking of morale: Having a sales team that can execute is important, but it's even more crucial to build and sustain morale among your reps. There are plenty of examples of smaller teams with high morale defeating large teams with poor morale. Treat your team fairly: Keep your word, and show that you care about them. When times get tough—and sooner or later they will—a sales team with high morale will bring home the bacon.

5. Don't Switch Up the Sales Process Unnecessarily

Companies that frequently change their procedures pay a big penalty in lost sales and employee frustration. To management, modifications might seem like helpful little tweaks, but remember—you're changing the way your reps do their job, and it will take them time to adapt.

Sure, some changes are necessary, but when the changes are frequent and nonessential, reps tend to get frustrated, leading to slower sales.

Keep these sales "don'ts" in mind, and you'll end up with happier sales reps, a healthier company, and far fewer managerial headaches.

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