I have had the opportunity to work for many different sales managers over my career. I’ve seen many styles, but I think this article in SalesHQ.com hits upon the most dangerous style:
The Good Buddy is everyone’s friend. Managing is a popularity contest that he intends to win. He’ll be a great drinking buddy, a top notch shoulder to cry on, a guy you can trust to cover for you. He’ll make sure the office atmosphere is loose, that everyone feels welcome, that the office is a fun place to be.
Discipline? Well, that’s not something you’ll find in his office. An insistence on hitting quota? Something else that isn’t a priority. Coaching? Nope. Lots of back slapping and high fiving, but no coaching. Decisions? Don’t expect The Good Buddy to make the hard decisions because he might hurt someone’s feelings.
The Good Buddy is weak and lets his team members run the office. Ultimately, most everyone in his office ends up unhappy.
The reason this style is so dangerous is that the first order of sales management is holding salespeople accountable. Accountable to their forecasts, their activities, their communication, their sales, etc. It is the ultimate coaching position that requires the leader to have earned the respect of his or her team.
The Good Buddy I worked for used to hold court in his office for most of the day. It was always stories, jokes, happy hour plans, etc. Lunches were 2 hour investments. Sales discussions were minimal. Strategy discussions were non-existent. We were simply expected to do our job, make our numbers and don’t bother him. It was completely dysfunctional and ineffective.
The sales manager was eventually fired, but the damage was done to the company. It eventually folded in the mid-1990’s.
This style is one of the reasons why objective assessments are a critical piece to any successful sales manager hiring process.