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Stay or Go: Should You Keep or Replace Your Sales Manager?


Quotas aren’t being met and sales performance overall is lagging every quarter. Moral is atrocious, and no one seems to have any answers. You look to your sales manager to fix it, but then realize he needs coaching and training to get over the hump, which you provide, but it doesn’t help. Sometimes, even coaching and training won’t fix the problems, so you resolve that the only thing left to do is find another sales manager. But how do you know you’re making the right decision?

Clear Symptoms of Dysfunction

The obvious symptom of poor sales management is sales reps consistently missing their numbers. Others may include:

  • A cloud of confusion or frustration that seems to loom over the entire sales organization
  • Your sales manager is unable to answer basic questions about forecasts or deals in the pipeline
  • He or she is not coaching reps enough, or not coaching the right things

Reality Check: It’s Time to Replace Your Sales Manager

Recognizing a sales management problem is just part of the issue. You then need to pinpoint where the problems lie so you can determine if there’s a chance for improvement. However, this is not always possible.

Sales managers may have the skill and the will to lead their sales teams, or they may not. Skills can be worked on and improved, but without the will, it’s highly unlikely that any positive changes will occur. Also, dysfunction leads to bad morale, which can be tough to recover from, even if the sales manager has the will to change.

Here are five unmistakable clues that it’s time to replace your sales manager:

  1. Not sticking to his/her own sales process
  2. Not aligned with your business, sales and/or marketing strategies
  3. Blames others for poor sales results
  4. Doesn’t want to learn anything new
  5. Not eliminating reps who are not performing

Finding Your Next Sales Manager

Of course, the next question is, how do you find a good sales manager? Finding that person who can work well in your organization, within your culture, can be a science project on its own. It’s not as easy as it seems. And, we all know that top performing sales people do not always make great sales managers. Although you can replace internally, there are issues with this unless you have a specific succession plan in place for someone to take over the sales management role. But, few companies do this. Or, you can go out to the marketplace and/or get referrals, but that can be a bit of a crap shoot.

The bottom line is, first you have to recognize the signs of dysfunctional leadership. Second, you need to know when it’s time to replace your sales manager. It’s not an easy decision since this can be disruptive to your sales organization. But, based on my experience, it will be as much of a relief to your sales team as it will be to your outgoing sales manager. Only then can you begin to turn things around.

Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter

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