11 common mistakes a new sales manager makes in startups

It’s the time to train your team to deliver their best and feel one with your company. You need to be patient in the first few weeks to allow a new sales manager to familiarise himself/herself with the framework of your company culture. Its’ also important to ensure that the sales manager is aligned to your company vision to be able to deliver.

Listing 11 most common sales blunders that startup founders face with new sales managers .

1. Bad prospecting

This could stem from them new sales managers not understanding your business well or deep enough.

Ensure they are well trained on your company and its products or services before they begin working.  If possible during the initial days, screen their prospect lists to confirm who they qualify as a sales lead.

Teaching sales teams to segment data and screen well  ensures that you get a better understanding of your customer’s needs, wants and also his budget. Most importantly screening helps you to figure out if your manager is talking to the decision maker or not.

So, the simplest way for screening people would be is to ask them these simple questions like:

  • What are customers looking for specifically?
  • What is the customer’s budget?
  • When do customer’s want to start?

2.  Always saying “Yes” to every customer demand

In the pursuit to close the elusive deal, we often get into a habit of saying “Yes”.

For example- a prospect has made an unreasonable request and  your sales manager, who wants this deal to materialise, says a “Yes”. And once he says “yes” a couple of times, you realise that you are walking down a slippery lane as the customer would keep making such requests in future too. This is not just resource intensive but also often leads to your productivity dipping. Teach your sales teams to pragmatically evaluate what they can agree to and what not.

By learning to say “No” early, your business will end up having  happier customers.

3 Talking rather than listening

The sales call is all about building the relationship and gathering information about the customer.Most often in a quest for imparting information, the sales guy keeps talking unnecessarily. The more they talk or more information they offer than needed, the likelihood of customers getting confused becomes  higher.

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Sales managers must as a rule and habit speak less and listen more.  Their message should be concise and effective so that customer can understand it easily. Always remember, people have a low attention span, so be concise and effective in your sales scripts.

4. Pushing too hard

Nothing irritates a customer more than a pushy salesperson ( remember those credit card salespeople who just call, call and call !!)

By being pushy, sales managers may come across as  desperate to close the deal and this will work against your business. Customers get offended and are not attracted to the product when pushed too hard. Always remember the customer wants to buy and not to be sold.

However, if you still want to add an element of pushiness in your business’s sales technique, the right approach would be to create a sense of urgency to close the deal.

For example, a sales script could be – “In my consulting job, I often tell my potential clients that if they want to work with me, they need to finalize it by X date as after that there are other commitments. Doing this has helped me to increase my close ratio by nearly 40%.However, this strategy has to be used very judiciously.You can use this when it is close to true otherwise it can misfire too.”

5. Not value deadlines and punctuality

“If you are 15 minutes early, you’re on time, If you’re on time, You’re late and if you’re late, then you didn’t really want to be there – Anonymous”

If sales managers arrive late, it gives a signal that they’re not serious and don’t care enough about customers or their time. Make punctuality a company promise. Enough said there.

Give your teams GPS trackers if you have to but ensure they always know their way to the client.

If there is a proposal to be sent by Monday 9 AM then ensure it reaches by 9 AM and not 11 AM !!

 6. Over-estimate their capabilitues

While hiring many sales executives may come across as promising but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect for your business. You need to ensure they understand your business and accept their goals and targets with open eyes. If not, a feeling of dissatisfaction sets into the sales team and that lowers their own morale which may lead to company exit.

Image credit – Unsplash

7. They want to be liked all the time.

Tough decisions aren’t everybody’s cup of tea and a sales manager who cant make such decisions end up hurting company interests in the long run.

8. Over-estimating company resources 

Wining and dining customers in Michelin star restaurants sounds fancy and fun in the sales life. Maybe at a certain stage in their career they would need to do that regularly, specially when the stakes involved are higher (huge deal zise or enterprise clients etc) .

However, sales teams need to understand that while working at a startup the budgets aren’t lavish and we meet only when we need to at a place thats comfortable and nice. eg to sell a 100 dollar software you don’t need to take a prospect for dinner at the Savoy when you can catch up at a Starbucks or posh cafe around the prospect’s neighbourhood. This could however change if the prospect is an influencer or represents an entry to a bigger deal size.

9. They micro-manage

Your sales managers might be liaising with other teams under them or third party vendors. They need to respectful and collaborative rather than be nagging at others. This behaviour if left unchecked can cause a dip in team morale and cohesiveness.

10. Over confidence

sales managers are often optimists. In their high of over confidence of sealing the deal they are prone to often not acknowledging the prospects silent cues like body language or hesitation to commit immediately. Ensure reality check for them by talking to them periodically.

11. Unwilling to un-learn and re-learn

This is something I learnt from experience every single time. Sales managers find it difficult to unlearn and re-learn new processes with time and trends. While sales is fundamentally about relationships, certain aspects seem to rattle sales managers. Eg if the manager hasn’t used a CRM automation in his/her previous company they tend to avoid using it at all costs because they find the updating data cumbersome and intrusive. However in a data backed world, CRM automation would mean tremendous insights about your pipeline and velocity. You have to ensure your sales teams update their CRMs regularly or use advanced ones that self update like Alore CRM.

I’m sure if your new sales manager can work through avoiding these mistakes then you’ve got a real star in your hand !!

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