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34 Dumb Mistakes Sales Managers Make

The recent post "Top 5 Mistakes Sales Managers Make" described the far-reaching mistakes that cause problems throughout an organization.

However, there are a multitude of other, more tactical, mistakes that sales managers make that can really play havoc with your company and your career. Here are 34 of them, mostly contributed by Sales Machine readers, in alphabetical order:

  1. Change the compensation plan after hiring a rep to drastically to reduce the compensation that's actually paid.
  2. Change the demographic of prospects every two weeks, discarding any progress made towards closing an actual sale.
  3. Create product lines that aren't reasonably debugged or field worthy, thereby murdering the sales rep's reputation.
  4. Demand sales increases and then fail to compete on bids after the rep got your product specified.
  5. Fail to provide competitive analysis, leaving the rep to figure out how to fight off attacks from the other guys.

  6. Have a sales rep build up business in an area then declare them 'house accounts' that don't pay a commission.
  7. Hire more sales reps for a region than revenue from that region can support, so they'll all compete for the same business.
  8. Ignore a potential consistent customer-base in favor of higher-ticket, more difficult to close prospects.
  9. Insist that all contact info belongs to the company and demand all copies when the sales rep leaves the company.
  10. Keep dumping more and more responsibilities on the same size sales force, with no additional support.
  11. Know that a product is on back-order indefinitely but still encouraging sales reps to sell it.
  12. Let a new rep bootstrap their income by cherry picking accounts belonging to another rep.
  13. Limit the sales reps' access within your own firm to minor players so that they don't "get in the hair" of top management.
  14. Make sure that the most popular products are unavailable to the reps, especially if demonstrating is key to closing a sale.
  15. Make the compensation plan incomprehensible and then make the rep fight for every dime.
  16. Offer a better price to customers on the web site than the sales team can offer directly to the customers.
  17. Openly praise reps who set an unachievable high target while degrading the ones who set practical ones.
  18. Overload your sales staff with administrative reporting and trackers that take up time that could be spent selling.
  19. Permit discounts in order to close business but then demand customers pay full price.
  20. Promise the reps good commissions but hold off paying them until the end of the quarter or the end of the fiscal year.
  21. Promise to support a new product and then produce zero case histories, sales tools or good training.
  22. Raise the quota every month at least 10% so that nobody ever achieves a commission check.
  23. Refuse to give reps laptops or smartphones so they can compete with the other sales teams in their markets.
  24. Refuse to go on field sales calls to a "difficult" customer in order to show the rep how to handle that customer.
  25. Save all the best leads for the top rep and send the questionable ones to the other reps, just in case they might get lucky.
  26. Say something like: "you can't tell ME anything I don't already know. I've been doing this for 24 years."
  27. Schedule joint calls and cancel because you found something more important to do.
  28. Set a sales target to sales rap but fail to devise or communicate a sales strategy to achieve that target.
  29. Set ambitious targets intended to impress top management when you know that the reps cannot really achieve them.
  30. Shout, throw fits of temper, and act like a big baby rather than listening and coaching reps on how to perform better.
  31. Spend big money on a sales and marketing campaign that has no tie-in to the products that the reps must actually sell.
  32. Update the website without telling the sales team, so customers can tell them what's new in your product set.
  33. Use words like "you've been overpaid" when making changes to the compensation plan.
  34. Wait until a rep is about to bring in a large account and then cap commissions.
READERS: Any that I missed?