Are You Creating a Toxic Sales Team?

Stress at work
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Some ideas look great on paper, but just don't work out under real world conditions. Sales management is full of examples that make the Titanic look like a rousing success by comparison. Here are a few really bad ideas that will destroy your sales team's morale.

Giving the Best Leads to the Best Performers

If you're getting your sales management ideas from “Glengarry Glen Ross,” it may be time for a rethink.

Few things will enrage and depress your salespeople more than an unequal distribution of leads. After all, the better the leads, the more sales a salesperson can make (and the bigger his commissions check). You will create an atmosphere of hostility that will utterly destroy any sense of camaraderie in your team.

And if that doesn't convince you, think about the short-sightedness of your plan. What happens when one or more of your top performers leaves the company? You'll be left with a sales team that essentially has nothing in the pipeline and is probably locked into permanent despair.

Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket and then throwing the other baskets out the window, try working with your mid- and low-level reps to see if there is anything holding them back from becoming stars. Distributing a few really good leads to your struggling salespeople and then watching to see how they handle those opportunities will tell you a lot about their caliber.

Fostering Too Much Competition

A little competition between salespeople on the same team is healthy and motivates them to do their best. Too much competition will backfire and cost you and your sales reps a lot of money.

One wonderful way to ignite a firestorm of hostility between team members is to give them overlapping territories.

The members of your sales team will become instant competitors as they duke it out over the same pool of prospects. That's not to mention the confusion that will ensue in a prospect's mind when he gets calls from three different salespeople from your company on the same day.

Instead, keep the competition on a more civilized level by staging contests or otherwise rewarding the month's top performers. These rewards don't have to be expensive – it can be something as simple as getting to use the best parking space for the next month.

Setting Unreachable Quotas

Like the previous example, sales quotas are a case of “a little challenge is good, a lot is really bad.” If you set your team's quotas so high that it would take a miracle for them to succeed, you're taking away one of their major motivators to do well. After all, if success is impossible, why try?

On your typical sales team, there will be some reps who meet their goal every month, some who never seem to meet the goals, and a majority who sometimes make it and sometimes don't. If everyone always makes their quotas, you need to make them tougher. But if no one but the one or two best performers makes enough sales, you need to consider lowering the difficulty level.

Remember, a miserable sales team is an unproductive sales team!