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6 Sales Management Habits Pushing your Top Sellers out the Door

A Sales Growth Company
March 30, 2024

Pretty much every salesperson has a horror story about a toxic, incompetent, or downright awful sales management they’ve worked under. A recent Reddit thread inspired us to detail the common traits and behaviors for the worst of the worst. While some of these offenses may seem obvious, many unfortunately persist in organizations across the industry. As a sales leader, use this exercise as a exercise in self-reflection and an opportunity to course correct any bad habits.


The 6 Worst Sales Management Habits


The top complaint, micromanagement. Salespeople are motivated, driven professionals. They’re betting half their salary or more on themselves. If you have properly hired, trained, and enabled your team with the right processes and tools, you need to resist the urge to constantly look over their shoulders.

Micromanaging behaviors like requiring excessive forecast meetings, monitoring activity metrics like app usage or slack statuses, and refusing to delegate ownership undermines your team’s ability to operate efficiently. Research has shown that micromanagement hampers employee motivation and productivity while creating a feeling of resentment towards managers.

Trust the capabilities of your salespeople. Provide coaching and resources, but allow them the freedom to use their skillsets. If a rep has a deal to the final stages, don’t swoop in and take over unless assistance is explicitly requested. Let your people own their successes and learn from their failures.


Play Favorites

Showing favoritism on a sales team is a really good way to destroy morale and motivation. When managers visibly treat certain reps better than other by giving them premium territories, opportunities, or undeserved promotions, it sends a clear message that individual performance doesn’t matter.

It happens all the time and it’s blatantly obvious to your team members. If you want to ensure your team harbors bad feelings or that you’re not acting in their best interest start playing favorites, and in extreme cases start a romantic relationship with one of them.

A study conducted by Penn Schoen Berland and Georgetown University reveals that 75% of  employees have witnessed favoritism in the workplace. This treatment is the fastest path to distrust and resentment.

Beyond being unethical and demoralizing, playing favorites prevents you from properly coaching, developing, and placing talent where they can be most effective. Top performers who don’t feel supported will seek out other opportunities if they don’t believe it’s an even playing field.


Be a ‘Wolf’

Anyone else tired of this? Some sales managers are still relying on overly intense, hyper-masculine tactics to motivate their teams. We still hear stories of Glengarry Glen Ross posters in offices, starting meetings with YouTube videos of the aggressive closing tactics of certain sales ‘gurus’, and encouraging the ‘wolf’ mentality.

This toxic, high-pressure environment is counterproductive. It breeds hostility, unethical behavior, and an unsustainable work environment that leads to burnout. Building an effective sales culture requires a balance between a competitive spirit to striving towards excellence but doing so through collaboration, emotional intelligence, and value add for the customer. Chest-thumping, oh-rah chanting sessions poisons the long-term culture of the team.

Foster an environment of mutual support, coaching, and professional growth.


Disrespect Work-Life Boundaries

Sales is an intense profession with long hours and high stress. That does not, however, give sales leaders the freedom to disregard work-life balance. Contacting reps after hours, on weekends or when they are out on PTO shows a complete lack of respect for their personal lives.

According to a Harvard business school survey, 94% of employees report working more than 50 hours a week, while half of those report working more than 65. High workload can lead to higher stress levels, and higher burnout rates.

Sales is a marathon. Reps need uninterrupted time to recharge. Repeatedly disrupting this downtime hurts retention and impairs long-term performance. As a manager, you should model work-life balance. Don’t send late night emails or expect immediate responses on weekends. Track employee PTO, schedule it on your calendar, and avoid contacting them when they are out of office.

Your team members’ personal lives should be just as important as their numbers. Burnout is avoidable when reasonable work-life balance is prioritized. Respect their time.


Don’t Offer them Professional Development Opportunities

Top sales talent crave opportunities to continuously improve their skills and advance their careers. Failing to provide pathways for professional development will drive your people out the door in search of better learning elsewhere.

87% of millennials say that professional development and career growth are important to them. Additionally, 68% of all employees say that training and development are the most important company policy, while 58% say that professional development contributes to job satisfaction.

As sales management, you should make coaching, training, and continuous learning a core part of your team’s workflow. This extends beyond ramp and onboarding, your seasoned veterans need avenues to level-up as well.

Facilitate ongoing training workshops, lunch and learns, role-playing sessions, and skill shares. Bring in external experts when possible and recommend courses, books, or certifications. During 1 on 1s discuss career development with each rep and map out growth paths aligned with rep’s interest.

Neglecting professional development puts you at risk of losing talent on a regular basis.


Pushing 1 on 1s out Endlessly

Regular 1 on 1 meetings are crucial to coaching, development, and maintaining a strong working relationship. Too many in sales management fail to treat these sessions with the importance they deserve.

Frequently rescheduling or canceling 1 on1s sends the message the your reps aren’t your top priority. It signals that their growth, concerns, and success take a backseat to other priorities. According to our research, sellers who weren’t coached on a regular basis were 27% more likely to miss quota. In addition, only 48.2% of salespeople said they were regularly coached.

As a manager, you should schedule 1 on 1s regularly and protect that time, only rescheduling for absolute emergencies. Arrive prepared and on time, and make the time focused and uninterrupted. Show your reps your time and their coaching is a priority for you.

Micromanaging, playing favorites, fostering a toxic culture, disregarding work-life boundaries, and deprioritizing coaching gradually strip the trust, engagement, and performance of your team. The role of a great sales manager is to bring the best out of your people. Make it a point to self-reflect on your management philosophy and actions regularly.

An exceptional sales manager creates a culture of accountability, an environment of constant learning, and creates success by being a coach and advocate for their team.

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