Unbound Growth Blog

4 Toxic Sales Leadership Practices that Kill Revenue

Posted by Carole Mahoney

 10/12/16, 4:13 PM

First thing on Monday morning one of our inside sales clients, let’s call him Scott, told us that their manager insisted that they send a proposal to all the opportunities in their pipeline that “might possibly close this month.” Didn’t matter what was happening or not happening in the conversation.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Scott’s manager also required he offer a 40-50% discount on the proposals to “make something happen.” When Scott pushed back because he knew it was the wrong thing to do, the manager said, “They can’t make a buying decision if they don’t have something in front of them. Just do it.”

I almost threw my phone. I can only imagine the level of frustration that Scott had as he watched his deals, and reputation, blow up in front of him.

The rest of the story gets worse, and unfortunately, I am hearing more and more of them everyday from salespeople who hire us because they truly want to improve and be a better salesperson to help their buyer and achieve their personal goals. But instead of sales leadership helping them do that, they are doing crap like this:

Are these 4 toxic sales leadership practices happening in your company?

  1. Sales managers that still sell. Scott’s sales manager still sold. Scott’s manager didn’t really have time to spend with his team, so meetings were more like “Tell me what you are going to close.” For weaker salespeople, a manager who still sells is the perfect excuse why they can’t get enough sales.
  2. Follow my (bad) example. Yup, you guessed it- Scott’s manager also sends unwanted proposals to his prospects. How is this setting a good example? If the sales leaders in your company are still selling because you want them to “set the example”, is this what you had in mind? Do you really know what kind of example they are setting? And what if that sales manager's style and approach doesn't work for a salesperson?
  3. The crap snowball effect. As soon as the toxic sales leader gets pressure from above to make some sales happen, they pass that on to their salespeople. And because the salespeople are told to follow their sales managers example, they hand that pressure down to their buyers. That is why crap like sending unwanted hail Mary proposals happen. Rather than helping their salespeople to have real conversations with buyers and discover urgent problems that buyers need to solve, they put on the pressure to sell this product now!
  4. Drop everything, enter the data! Another client lost several selling days because he had to make sure the CRM data was updated for the reports that his manager needed to send up. Hard to believe that this is still necessary with tools that make it easy to pull data from anywhere for reporting. A salesperson's time must be guarded and protected as the precious commodity it is.

Can this madness be stopped or prevented? Yes, but like most things it starts at the top. I used to believe and hope that it could be a grassroots effort in a company. But what sane rockstar salesperson is going to put with this for long?

I know that this is not the case everywhere, but it is the case in too many places. Yes, there are those sales leaders whose first priority is to become a better manager and help their people grow.

This is why helping sales leaders become better coaches is now part of the Unbound Growth mission. Salespeople can’t grow with these toxic leadership practices. And if salespeople can’t grow, neither can companies, job can’t be created, and problems are left unsolved.

Are you unsure how to effectively coach your salespeople? Can you think of a specific scenario or have a recorded call? Send it to us for the Oct 19 Coaching Camp and see how we would coach your rep.

Learn more about Coaching Camp.

Topics: sales management, sales leadership

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"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward." ~Vernon Law 
This blog is a home for the business growth lessons that we and our associates and clients have learned from the front lines.

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