Top 10 Reasons Why New Sales Managers Fail

Top 10

Welcome to Steven’s Top 10. I will be publishing a new top 10 list every week. Feel free to add additional points to the list, and if you have any lists you are interested in please let me know. My focus is on sales, sales leadership, sales executives, and business. This blog is focused on the Top 10 Reasons Why New Sales Managers Fail.

Your firm is growing and needs a competent, energetic sales manager to increase revenue and direct sales operations on the frontline. You hire your top salesperson, expecting that the skill, professionalism, and enthusiasm he or she brought to sales will translate into effective sales management. Four to six months later, your hopes are dashed as the performance of your sales team has declined and you’ve lost your top seller to a sales management position you thought he or she would excel at.

The above is an incredibly common scenario because organization heads wrongly assume that the skills and talents that make an exceptional salesperson are the same skills and talents that make an exceptional sales manager. Salespersons can make great managers, but only if they avoid the following all too common reasons as to why new sales managers fail at such high rates.

Here are my Top 10 Reasons Why New Sales Managers Fail


New Sales Managers


  1. Lack of Skills Transferability – Sales managers are often individuals with excellent sales backgrounds and they are promoted because of their ability to attract customers and sell the product. A sales manager does not sell to potential customers; he or she sells to their team. The successful sales manager sells the ideas and techniques that made him or her success as a salesperson.
  1. Lack of Training – Few universities offer specialized training in sales management, and sales managers are often given very little regarding guidance and support when transitioning to their new roles. Sales management is a unique field with its challenges and specificities, and new sales managers need effective training to become successful.
  1. Bogged Down by Bureaucracy – A common downfall of new sales managers is the tendency for them to become overburdened by administrative tasks which cause them to lose sight of the actual reason they were hired or promoted to be a sales manager. Effective sales managers leave administrative and operational tasks to others and focus on their team and improving sales performance.
  1. Picking the Individual over the Team – While comparing sales to a sport is overdone to the point where it’s become cliché, there is some truth to it. Sales is a team sport, and many new sales managers fail because they focus on leading individuals rather than leading the team.
  1. Loss of Focus – Many new sales managers become overly focused on sales processes while neglecting other facets of sales management such as customer service and sales support. Sales is a broad field and need to be managed in its entirety.
  1. Lack of Clearly Defined Roles – A common mistake companies make is not communicating with a newly hired sales manager the breadth of his or her power and the duties and responsibilities of the role. This results in hesitancy and lack of initiative.
  1. Poor Sales Team Development – Many new sales managers fail because they neglect to allocate a sufficient amount of time and resources to training and to develop their teams. Improving the sales team is a proven method of improving sales results, and any successful sales manager must spend the time to train and develop his or her team.
  1. Lack of Backbone – Sales management can be a thankless job at times and requires holding sales teams to high standards of performance. Many new sales managers fail to uphold these standards of performance and offer weak leadership when they are not met.
  1. Bad Prospecting – Sales managers do not prospect for potential customers, they prospect for outstanding salespersons. High failure rates among newly hired sales managers are due in large part because they fail to constantly be on the lookout for new sales talent to add to their teams.
  1. Inability to Inspire – A common pitfall of many new sales managers is their inability to properly motivate their teams. Morale is incredibly important in sales, and successful sales managers must be able to inspire it.

Sales management can be an incredibly rewarding career path, but it is indeed not for the faint of heart. Fortunately, most new sales managers fail due to a similar set of reasons, reasons which are well-known and most importantly, eminently avoidable.

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Steven A. Rosen

Steven helps companies transform sales managers into great sales leaders. His focused coaching helps clients achieve greater personal and professional success. Steven is the author of 52 Sales Management Tips - The Sales Manager’s Success Guide.

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