A bad sales manager can be more damaging to the business than almost anybody else. The problem is s/he appears to be one of the team and yet undermines the most important function - winning and keeping customers. It can take a long time for the bad sales manager to get found out, and even longer to get rid of him and repair the damage. Of course the same applies to any bad manager, but this blog is about sales and selling.
We might think they're easy to spot, but whilst the sales team will know, the corporate management won't, because these guys are adept at blaming other people. Only once the morale of the team is decimated and quarter after quarter numbers fail to please will the focus turn to the sales manager.
In my experience there are 3 main traits evidenced by all bad sales managers.
Having to be Right Even When Wrong
There's a manager I worked with who couldn't take anybody in the business knowing more than him. A major contract was up for renewal. The sales rep explained the situation presenting a strategy for driving the price up. The manager agreed, but in a service meeting with the client got into negotiating a renewal of the contract. He knew the client had nowhere else to go. The rep had explained letting the contract expire would leave the client between a rock and the proverbial hard place. All the manager had to do was sit back, and placate the client after the rep had forced an increase in price and reduction in service. But he didn't. He did the negotiation himself, without telling the rep, and discounting the price by 30%.
Sure, he got the renewal, but cost the business $000s in the process.
Process is More Important than Result
When managers don't know what they're doing they focus on process, as opposed to results. They just want to tell their boss the deal going bad wasn't their fault. They'd done all the right stuff. Really bad managers of any description go by the book rather than the circumstances. The idiot coming to my mind insisted every first meeting should begin with a corporate presentation. That's what the book said.
Setting Up the Fall Guy
Real sales managers understand their job is enabling and supporting the sales rep. It's the rep wot gets the credit and the manager who gets to smile, knowingly. Bad sales managers are the ones who set themselves up to take the credit and the rep to get the blame.
Whenever a deal goes bad the good sales manager accepts responsibility. That deal shouldn't have gotten into the forecast without the manager's approval.