Poor leadership will cost you $3.5 million per sales manager.

Message to Management: Your job is to get the rocks out of the road for your salespeople so they can do what they were hired to do—sell!”

I wrote that 15 years ago in my first book, NO MORE COLD CALLING: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust. But I don’t think any sales manager listened, because more than half of reps are still missing quota. Why are we settling for this huge discrepancy? You wouldn’t want a surgeon with a 50-percent success rate, a mechanic that only puts air in two of your tires, or a service provider whose solution only works half the time. So, why is it acceptable for half your team to miss quota?

I don’t blame the salespeople for underperforming. I blame the sales manager for having the wrong priorities. If salespeople were self-motivated, they wouldn’t need managers or metrics. All of us perform our best when we are held accountable and have the tools to succeed. We respond to being shown, recognized, and rewarded for successful behaviors.

Yet, modern sales managers have their heads stuck in spreadsheets with priorities changing daily. They’re bogged down with technology. But technology doesn’t win deals; people do. Isn’t it time to focus on what really matters—coaching, guiding, and nurturing your sales team?

The job of a sales manager is to provide reps with the tools to succeed. That means enhancing and reinforcing their sales skills, budgeting for them to attend conferences and business events, brainstorming before prospect and client meetings, conducting joint calls, and ensuring clarity around accountability. The job is not to grill reps or tell them what to do. It’s to give them the tools to do their jobs and then get out of their way.

Michelle Vazzana at Vantage Point agrees that managers are focused on the wrong thing. Her Salesforce post—“How High Performing Sales Managers Crush Their Quota”—shares plenty of data to prove it. For example, in a global study of more than 1,000 sales managers, Vantage Point found, “75% of sales managers had fewer than 49% of their salespeople on target.”

Vazzana explains: “The harsh reality is that if you can’t solve the front-line sales management problem, your opportunity cost will be huge—approximately $3.5 million per manager. If that doesn’t cause you heartburn, nothing will.”

For more on how to refocus sales manager priorities and boost quota attainment, read the rest of her article. For a crash course in how to blow past quota with referral selling, invite Joanne to speak at your next sales event.

(Featured image attribution: Lukas)