Saturday, September 28, 2019

Modular Housing Sales Managers Typically Last Less Than 2 Years on the Job

Almost every modular home factory sales manager has been promoted up through the ranks within the factory they work.

Being given the sales manager’s position is often seen as a reward for being good at sales but without the skills needed and management training, he or she may become a total disaster.

In fact, the average tenure for a factory sales manager is 18 months. That is 6 months trying to fix the previous manager’s problems, 6 months trying to implement new policies and the final 6 months trying to defend their actions to the factory owners.

The Peter Principle is an observation that the tendency is for every employee to rise within the modular home factory through promotion until they reach their level of incompetence. A side effect of this Principle is the newly promoted sales manager is fired instead of being demoted to sales person again.

We have an entire generation of sales reps, Millennials and Gen Z, that know nothing of hard times so it should come as no surprise to anyone that with little or no training they tend to commit many fatal mistakes without even knowing why sales fail to increase.

If you are about to promote one of your star sales people to the sales manager role, you must invest time and money into preparing them for their new position or within 2 years you might be looking for another new sales manager.

One of the best introductory courses for any new sales manager can be found on LinkedIn in the “Become a Sales Manager” course, a 9 hour video course with topics ranging from learning how to recruit, train, retain, and manage a high-performing sales team, how to motivate individual salespeople and teams and how to create and manage sales territories.

Here are some of the most frequent mistakes new untrained sales managers make:

They refuse to accept personal accountability for the actions of the sales people. Blaming the salespeople, the market, the economy or the company will never increase sales.

They neglect to develop the sales reps they manage. The #1 job of the sales manager is not to sell. It isn’t even to increase sales. The #1 job is to develop salespeople on the team. The problem with promoting the top producing sales person to the sales manager’s position is that they probably think sales would go up if everyone sold the way they did when they were the top producer.

A sales manager should be a coach, not a buddy. Salespeople need a mentor, a coach, to spur them to leave their comfort zone and push on to new success. They don’t set standards and only rank the salespeople solely by sales. Without clear expectations, without the awareness that there are a variety of ways to succeed, and without the knowledge of where they stand, salespeople will flounder into isolation, alienation and apathy.

They never train their salespeople. Thinking that they know everything sales limits the sales staff to the sales manager’s experience. Without continual training in this rapidly changing housing market, the sales reps can find themselves unprepared to meet unexpected challenges.

They condone incompetence. Sales reps can actually believe their lack of competent performance is acceptable when they see no consequences for lack of sales. Managers often hire people who have no natural talent and then keep them on board, hoping that they’ll somehow acquire that talent. Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, there is no Spock or Vulcan Mind Meld.

Most new sales managers fail to control costs and profits. Many managers get hypnotized by sales without thinking about how much money it’s costing to make those sales. In the quest for more home and commercial sales, the manager often loses track of what is being spent, especially when that spending is taking place inside another department. Worse case, the factory can end up in the situation of losing money on every module sold and tries to make up the difference in volume.

A new sales manager usually expects too much from their reps. Most managers expect their sales people to create a brand image in the builder’s mind, locate new builders for the factory, work hand in hand with builders to make the sale and handle the ongoing relationship with the builder, all with little training or guidance from the sales manager.

When the new sales manager keeps changing the pay scale,the company can end up in a situation where, no matter how many hours the rep works, he or she can't break the pay ceiling. Soon the company won't be able to hire good sales reps, as the company will have a bad reputation.

Many new sales managers have a “star” that gets all the hot leads and plenty of recognition while the rest of the team is overlooked. This alienates the rest of sales staff and sends the message that kissing up is the way to succeed.

If you have been chosen to be your company’s next sales manager and they haven’t offered you any training for this new position, pay for the 9 hour LinkedIn Sales Manager course yourself. It may help you stay in your new role for longer than 2 years.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

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