Sales Management: Expectations vs. Reality [Infographic]

Successful sales management requires setting and managing expectations—including your own. If you hold any of these frequently-held but fundamentally-flawed management assumptions, this infographic gives you the research-backed realities of the role to help you recalibrate your thinking.

Sales management statistics graphic

6 min. read

You can already see it. It’s going to be awesome.

You’re confident in what you’re doing. You have everything you need.

You’re ready to create the world’s most beautiful cat cake.

It's gonna be purr-fect.

But then, reality rears its ugly head. You’ve never made a specialty cake before. Your expectations for the final product were, um, half-baked, to say the least.

“Hi, I’m Reality’s Ugly Head! See you in your nightmares!”

How could you have been so off about what to expect?

Well, maybe you bake delicious cookies every weekend so you thought an entire custom cake wouldn’t be that different. Or you took an art class that one time so you thought those skills would translate.

This kind of optimistic-but-a-bit-off-base thinking can also happen when people move into a sales leadership position.

People who are born knowing how to manage others are few and far between. Some salespeople who go in with the best of intentions may still have some problematic expectations for their role. And even experienced sales leaders might have incorrect assumptions about how things will play out as their sales team and sales process evolves.

Do you hold any of these false assumptions? Our infographic highlights some of the most common, yet completely unrealistic, sales management expectations and the real-world research that’ll help you reset your management mindset.

How to change your sales leadership mindset

Whether you’re new to sales leadership or a seasoned veteran, biases and easy, but incorrect, assumptions have a way of sneaking into your mindset. They’re comfortable and reaffirm things you’re already thinking.

Reading the stats in the infographic above and recognizing your blind spots is a starting point. The harder work is taking this knowledge and applying it to make changes to your management style.

Here comes the good part: it’s easier to do if you take it in small steps. 

I’ll leave you with four simple tactics you can use to get yourself out of any unrealistic expectation rut:

  1. Learn something new
  2. Get your hands dirty
  3. Embrace change with small steps
  4. Accept that you don’t have all the answers

1. Learn something new

There are a lot of smart people out there thinking about all things sales management. Check out a sales leadership video, blog post, webinar, course, or book for a different view on the role.

If you need some inspiration, we recommend our Sales Manager’s Library. It includes nine of our favourite sales management books—and you can win copies of them, too!

2. Get your hands dirty

Get on the front lines of your sales team. Do a demo. Make client visits. Field a discovery call. It’s harder to assume anything once you’ve seen the reality first-hand.

Here at Proposify, new hires, no matter their job title or department, spend some time working with our awesome customer support team. It provides insight into our clients and their needs and helps create a culture of empathy.

3. Embrace change with small steps

Managers often get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks. Changing anything that doesn’t immediately impact the weekly, monthly, or quarterly goals seems tough to tackle.

For example, artificial intelligence may seem overwhelming and so you don’t start. But if you take small steps now—like learning more about it and implementing it slowly with your team—you won’t be lagging behind a year from now.

4. Accept that you don’t have all the answers

Sometimes managers feel like they have to have all the answers. Nope, not true.

When you don’t know something, admit it. Ask for help. Ask for opinions or outside expertise. Seek out fresh perspectives. Understand that the skills, talents and knowledge have served you in getting you into your leadership position but it’s building, expanding, and even sometimes abandoning these that will get you to that next level of success.

Sales Management: Expectations vs. Reality [Infographic]

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