What would your organization look like without a head of operations? Could it function optimally and achieve all of its goals? And would the individual role players within the operations department work efficiently and effectively?

Probably not, right? So, why do so many companies think that their sales organizations don’t need sales managers?

With no one at the helm of a sales organization, there’s almost no way to be sure that reps will stay motivated, perform the activities that ensure success or hold themselves accountable to goals and objectives. Over time, that freewheeling approach can spawn a culture of nonchalance—a world in which reps don’t just respond poorly to input or feedback, but one in which they just want to be left alone.

That’s just fine if reps are hitting quota and blowing their revenue targets out of the water, of course. But the chances of that happening with no sales leadership are slim, if they exist at all. In fact, the reality in most situations is that a lack of leadership creates chaos—and chaos is never a good thing in the sales world.

Lack of Sales Leadership Often Leads to Underachievement

Truthfully, leadership is just as important in your sales organization as it is in any other part of your business. Without it, how can you expect to establish and maintain processes, implement and track metrics, and ultimately ensure that prospects are getting the information they need to move down the path to purchase?

The short answer is that you can’t.

The long answer is that, as mature and professional as you think your sales reps are, very few people—and teams—are capable of truly self-governing.

Unfortunately, too many business owners believe they’re too busy to take the steps necessary to manage their sales reps, or that investing in a sales leader isn’t worth the ROI it will deliver on the back end. Those assumptions are both typically incorrect, and the reality is your sales organization will never reach its full potential unless it’s supported by a capable leader.

In fact, when you leave it up to your reps to manage themselves, they often underachieve. And the cost of that underachievement will very likely be more than any dollars you save by allowing reps to self-govern.

So, What Should You Be Doing?

My argument here isn’t that you should rush out and hire a sales manager to oversee your team.

Instead, it’s that you (or whoever you delegate sales management responsibilities to) give your sales reps the attention they need and deserve. That can manifest itself in a lot of different ways, but at a high level it means:

  • Investing time every day, week and month against ensuring that reps are focused on the right opportunities and motivated by the right things.
  • Setting goals and reminding reps of them.
  • Uncovering issues or stumbling blocks and providing the support needed to overcome them.
  • Addressing skill deficiencies, territory issues, product questions and sales process problems.

When you do all of that on a regular basis, you can quickly diagnose what your reps need to run at peak performance and deliver those things to them. Doing that will not only shorten sales cycles and lessen the headaches caused by inconsistent sales performance, it will also improve your—and their—chances of meeting revenue and profitability objectives.

When that happens, two key things are likely to happen: Your sales team will become the well-oiled machine you always wanted it to be, and your company will have the revenue it needs to grow and evolve.

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book, “The Sales Magnet,” and the award winning book, “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.