How to Alienate Your Sales Team

After 50 years in business, most of which has been in sales related roles, it seems to me that there is a great appetite by many sales managers to alienate their sales teams. How do I know this? Well – over those fifty years I might have met no more than a handful of salespeople who have anything positive to say about their managers. During that same period I have many sales managers who have shown an interest in not alienating their sales teams by undertaking studies and programmes aimed at motivating and/or inspiring their sales teams. However I am additionally aware that the vast majority of sales managers tend to seek programmes and undertake studies which avoid taking any personal responsibility for the failure of their sales teams and instead seek programmes which involve analysing data

To assist in this quest I have constructed the major behaviours to adopt which will ensure that your team will a) be alienated, b) have contempt for you, and c) will at the first opportunity leave. The numerical sequence does not indicate a ranking. The behaviours are:

  1. Spend as little time as possible accompanying your salespeople on customer visits. A good ratio would be 5% of available time – or once a year with every team – whichever is the lower. The most important thing for sales managers is to focus on manipulating spreadsheets of sales data so you can work out who to fire next.
  2. Whenever you’re on an accompanied call make sure the customer knows that you have more knowledge and experience than the salesperson. In this way the customer will tend to talk mainly to you. Obviously, when the opportunity presents itself, close the sale. The salesperson will then know how it’s done and will appreciate the lesson learned.
  3. When you do go on calls with the salesperson try not to spend a full day as the salesperson might think you have nothing better to do. It’s a good idea to arrange for someone in the office to call you at a specific time so you can say that something more important has come up and you’ll have to leave in order to deal with it.
  4. It’s important to keep your mobile switched on all of the time – whether you’re out on calls with a member of your team; whether you’re in a meeting; if you’re on a training course or at a conference; or in the toilet. If you put the phone on silent no-one will know it’s switched on. As a sales manager it’s vital you are able to be contacted at every minute of the day. You should consider leaving your mobile switched on 24/7. Your boss might try calling you during the night or at weekends just to check out your commitment.
  5. Have a brainstorm session at every sales team meeting to generate ideas for increasing sales. This is important whether the team is on target or not as there will always be someone who is behind target. Make sure you pick on underperforming individuals to pick out the best idea for increasing sales and have them commit to a specific target to achieve between sales meetings. You don’t need to do anything with the ideas as they will probably come up again next time you do brainstorming. The act of doing this at every meeting shows how important increasing sales is.
  6. Publish a league table of results which should be updated each week. It is important for those salespeople who are falling behind others to see the gap increasing each week as they are probably not aware of their poor results in relation to others in the team.
  7. Be sure to support the idea that managers always have a superior benefits’ package to salespeople, no matter how successful they are. Whilst many members of your sales team might not be able to determine how much you are paid, one way of making them feel inferior is the choice of company car, on the assumption that your company still provides company cars. When your new company car arrives, and hopefully it’s a superior model and specification than for salespeople, either arrive early at the next meeting and pretend to be unloading something from the boot as they arrive. This will give you the opportunity to say loudly ‘sorry I’m running a bit late – I haven’t got used to the new features on this car yet’. If your company gives you a car allowance, be sure to bring up how much you’re saving every month because of the new policy.
  8. If you’re unfortunately enough to have to spend any time in the field with individuals in the team, be sure to gossip about other colleagues of theirs whenever the opportunity presents itself. They are probably too stupid to work out that you’ll be gossiping about them to their colleagues.
  9. If you’re a newly promoted sales manager, or even if you’ve been in the role a while, keep some of your best customers for yourself. You can say that the customer insists on dealing with you. It will also give you the opportunity of proving that you’re a far better salesperson than a sales manager.
  10. Lastly, and this is a great motivator, ask each person in the time to call you last thing on Friday each week with their sales figures. This is especially motivational for those who have had a bad week, and your reaction will ensure that they have a dreadful weekend worrying about what will happen next week.