ToxicConsistently delivering sales targets is the primary mission of any Sales Manager and if you are like the best, you work hard to build a high performance culture, while keeping morale high.

There are times however, when, the drive to succeed unwittingly backfires and create an unproductive environment for sales. If you see your sales reps showing signs of frustration, or falling morale, some of these management tactics may be to blame.

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Fostering Unhealthy Competition

In many cases, competition is good. Allowing sales regions to overlap may seem like a great way to get sales reps engaged in some healthy competition, but, it can also make your company look disorganized.

If your sales reps are calling and pitching to the same businesses, bitterly fighting with one another to close the same leads, you’re going to see your employees’ morale drop within the time frame of a week or less. I have experienced this first hand with multiple reps calling from one company and I can tell you – It is annoying.

It seems like common sense, but it is worth stating the obvious. Assign reps to exclusive territories and then encourage them to compete based on results and quality of business rather than allowing them to fight over the same accounts.

Setting Impossible Goals

Your job as a sales manager is to make impossible goals seem possible and motivate the team to achieve the goals, however, making drastic changes like upping call quota by a large amount overnight or forcing sales reps to work too far outside their comfort zone, could cause resentment which compromises your mission.

Make sure that any changes you think might work, will actually work. People usually don’t take well to major changes. Talk to your reps. Take into account your manpower, your sales reps’ current workload, and overall morale. Implement any big changes slowly, if possible.

Giving Your Top Reps all the Good Leads

This may make sense in principal – your top reps continually prove themselves to be reliable, and their commission checks show it. Unfortunately, you could be preventing some of your middle-level reps from jumping up to the next level. You may also be putting yourself in a situation where you are overly dependent on a small number of high performing reps that may or may not always be with you.

Take time to work on the strengths and weaknesses of your individual reps. Let them pitch in their best areas, and work to help them get to the top. If they’re hungry for it, your assistance will make it happen. Carefully think about who your star players are, and work to cultivate a fully trained, star player team that has a use for even the weakest links.

Attitude is often everything when it comes to playing a management role in any business. As a sales manager, you want to make sure your employees don’t hate coming to work – or working for you – by creative an awesome working environment, where you give them every opportunity to succeed and they are motivated to do so.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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