Growing Sales

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said: “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said: “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

The obvious point he was conveying is that everyone faces challenges—it is what you do about them that makes all the difference. As you continue to build your business in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond, successful sales team leadership can make the difference in overcoming challenges, allowing you to better access opportunity.

10 top tips for sales leadership

Reach out to others for ideas, help, and support. Being a sales manager can be lonely. Talk to other sales managers, inside or outside of your organization. Find a mentor or coach. Continue to develop yourself.

Hold your salespeople accountable. Failure is usually a result of lack of accountability.

Recognize when a salesperson is not a good fit for a job or customer. If possible, find a different position for that individual, but don’t leave an employee stuck when he is failing. You are not helping anyone. He is probably as unhappy with his performance as you are.

Set standards and keep to them. Managing by exception creates chaos. Sometimes salespeople negotiate better with their managers than with their customers. Avoid the pitfalls of those types of negotiations. If you maintain your standards, everyone will have clear expectations and be poised for success.

Have your sales team members try to resolve their differences before coming to you. Some salespeople will fight harder against their colleagues than they do against your competition. Discourage this behavior. They need to work together as a team. Having you resolve every internal issue wastes time and emotional energy.

Remember that a big part of your job is to remove roadblocks. Ask your team members what people, policies, and processes are getting in their way. Be responsive when they come to you with problems, and try to make an immediate impact on the hindrance.

Establish systems and processes that are clear and that add value. Salespeople, sales managers, and sales support staff often find themselves going in circles trying to figure out internal processes, policies, and guidelines.

Be engaging and approachable. Make people feel they can come to you with problems. People tend to hide problems to avoid embarrassment, or because they hope they will eventually find a way to resolve them. If your team members trust you, they will bring issues to light earlier—so you can resolve them quickly.

Remember that salespeople will tend to paint a picture that is rosier than reality. Ask probing questions to get a full sense of the real picture.

Spend 80 percent of your individual time helping top performers and 20 percent with lower performers. A 10 percent increase in a top performer will bring your organization a higher return on your time. Most managers do the reverse, spending more of their time with problem people. Instead, give top performers one-on-one time. Offer group time to low producers.

For more ideas on improving sales, leadership, employee engagement, and organizational performance, visit, or contact Dan Handley at 1-800-518-3253 or


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