Sean McPheat on managing managers

March 2020

“There are few things more exasperating than employing someone you have to micro-manage, or continuously direct, to get results.  That person who started off so well, or had all the right things on their CV, starts to make you wonder why you picked them in the first place.

So what are the identifying marks of a weak sales manager?
Poor Results: This is the obvious one, but can be insidious in its impact.  You measure your management team on the results they achieve.  It’s what they do with the results that really matters.  You need to get a clear low-down on what’s happening when the results aren’t as they should be.  A strong sales manager will identify what is under their control, and work with that information to plan for changes that can be assessed, measured and influenced.  A weak manager will look for reasons and excuses.  They will try to pass responsibility onto the sales team, or the economy, or the client base, or the prospect leads, or anything that takes the spotlight of themselves.

Holding On To Past Successes: No matter how successful sales managers have been in the past, it doesn’t mean they will take those successes into the future.  Managers have to learn from the past so they can apply those ideas in the future.  All markets are changing quickly, so if your sales manager keeps trying to repeat things that happened in the past, they may miss the opportunities those changes can bring them in the future.  A weak manager will keep harping on about what results they achieved before.  Strong managers will learn lessons and apply them in an evolutionary sense.

Blaming Results On The Poor Sales Team: It’s easy to pass the buck.  The sales manager isn’t out there in the field so, it’s the response you get from the sales manager when things aren’t going 100% well that will determine their strength.  A weak manager will blame the lack of training opportunities, or the poor systems that the team have to use.  A strong manager will come up with ideas that will help the team progress.

Not Planning for Growth And Development Of Their Team: All salespeople need to see chances for growth as they progress in their career.  A weak manager will not create those chances via coaching and mentoring, but will leave the development of their team up to the training department, or wait for a suitable outside training course to come around.  A strong manager will have a continuous development plan in place, carried out regularly with new research ideas and personalised coaching sessions.

Not Taking Their Own Development Seriously: Managers who succeed recognise they have to take personal responsibility for their own career and the development of their own skills.  Weak managers will leave their learning to experience and the ‘university of life’. 

They won’t seek out new videos, podcasts, DVDs, books, research papers, and the like, that will help them build their skills and become someone of real value to your company.

Strong managers recognise they are in charge and will have a daily and weekly improvement programme that will take them above managers in other sales companies.  They will write articles, link up with other sales managers and clients, contribute to blogs and drive their career forward by keeping up-to-date with influencers in their industry and beyond.  

It’s not difficult to identify weaknesses in your management team.  What you can do is commit to assisting these managers to assist themselves in growing, developing, enhancing ,and promoting their skillsets and those of their sales teams.
To your success!”

Sean McPheat is Managing Director of MTD Training.  
For information call 0800 849 6732 or visit

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