The Latest Astonishing Findings about Sales Managers

under performingThis article recently appeared at  The number that stood out for me in their report was 83% – as in 83% of first year sales managers don’t make their number.  Is that possible?  Is it realistic?  Is it believable?  Can you explain it?

A few thoughts about that…

This is a recent study so we must place it in the proper context of the times.  We already know that depending on whose data you read, between 50%-75% of all salespeople did not make quota in 2010 and will not make quota in 2011.  If their salespeople aren’t making quota, you can be fairly certain that their sales managers aren’t making quota either.  So adjusted for the times, 83% may really be just 8% to as much as 33% worse than veteran sales managers.

Objective Management Group’s data says that 18% of all sales managers shouldn’t even be in sales management –  they’re just not suited for it -and another 34% simply aren’t trainable.  So 52% should really do something else – like go back to sales.

The SalesBenchmark article focuses on promotion criteria but I think it’s a broader issue than one of inappropriately promoting salespeople to sales management roles.  Companies need to reevaluate their overall criteria for hiring sales managers because the problem is not limited to those that are promoting from within. Companies that hire sales managers from the outside select experienced sales managers that aren’t capable of driving sales, leading the sales force, managing the sales process, coaching full-time, developing salespeople, holding salespeople accountable, recruiting/selecting the right salespeople, keeping the sales force motivated, managing the pipeline and forecast, and affecting the outcomes of the opportunities in the pipeline.

When I speak (if you’re in the DC area I’ll be there this Wednesday 11/9/11) to audiences of Presidents, CEO’s and Sales VP’s, one question I always ask is, “Are your sales managers doing everything possible to grow your company?”.  And I am always met with a deer-in-the-headlights response.  The reason is that most executives – from sales management on up – don’t really know what sales managers should really be doing!

We’ll be hosting our annual Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston in early February 2012.  We haven’t posted the dates/agenda/schedule yet but if you would like to be notified when it becomes available and have an opportunity to purchase the best seats, email me and I’ll make sure you are among the first.  We are scaling it up this year – a bigger group means lower fees – and that’s good news for you!  You can also count on us thoroughly covering all of the topics mentioned above.

Until then, focus on selection and if you haven’t selected a sales manager that is native to desired competencies, it’s all about development, assuming that you don’t have one of the 52% that should be doing something else…