In my sales career I’ve consistently noticed five common afflictions that affect sales teams, each of which reduces morale and sales performance. Any one occurrence of these problems will not necessarily hurt the sales effort, but if allowed to progress to extremes they can be extremely harmful. Here are the first three common afflictions and how to counteract them.

Affliction 1: Wasting sales representatives’ time. Non-sales management often request that reps perform non-sales tasks. Sometimes it’s necessary to assign non-sales tasks to salespeople, but before this is done it’s worthwhile to determine whether they could be assigned elsewhere. Removing unnecessary tasks from the sales team’s shoulders will result in sales increases that will more than pay for the adjustments in duties.

Affliction 2: Poor sales meetings. The objective of any sales meeting should be to increase sales–period. Every high-performing salesperson will be thinking, “Is this meeting making me money, or is my time being wasted?” Powerful salespeople are self-motivated, and they intuitively know if their time is being wasted. If it is, management is hurting sales and morale.

To ensure effective sales meetings, develop a statement of strategic intent which defines what needs to be accomplished and the metrics needed to determine whether the goals set in the meeting were accomplished. It takes a deep understanding of the business, the market and the competition to write an effective statement of strategic intent, and managers who can’t write them need a better understanding of the business.

Affliction 3: Poor strategy. Ineffective marketing or sales strategies will always negatively impact the sales team. To compound the error, companies often try special promotions to save sagging sales on products that are ill-conceived or supported by poor strategy. Special promotions can be very effective, but managers should never call for a pointless charge of the light brigade. Sending the sales team on a promotion in support of a poor product or service is a severe tactical error. A successful sales effort hinges on good strategy, and companies that fail in this regard severely handicap their sales teams.

Next week we will take a look at the afflictions of capping or reducing income and favoritism.

John R. Treace has more than 30 years’ experience as a sales executive in the medical products industry. In 2010 he founded JR Treace & Associates, a sales management consulting business. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and is the author of the new book “Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization.” For more information, visit www.treaceconsulting.com.