Last week I had a lunch with a new salesperson. This is his first real job, and his first job in sales. I asked him about his new job, and he told me he was doing okay, but that he could be doing better. I then asked him if he was getting the time, the attention, the development, and the coaching that he needed to learn and to improve, and he laughed at me.

This new salesperson told me the most attention he gets from his sales manager is a demand to report his numbers and questions about why they aren’t better than they are.

This isn’t leadership. It really isn’t even marginally acceptable sales management.

Everyone deserves a good leader.

Caring for people

Leadership is more than vision. It’s more than producing financial results. It’s much, much more than “increasing shareholder value.” While each of these ideas and concepts about leadership may have some kernel of truth in it, they aren’t the whole truth.

The truth is that leadership is about people.

There is a difference between people in your employ and followers. That difference is in what you believe about leadership and people.

Great leaders care about their people, and the best leaders care deeply about them and they treat them accordingly. They find talented people, and they develop them into something really special. They take less talented people and bring their performance to new heights. They care enough to make sure that their people succeed, and they do everything in their power to help them.

The role of the first line sales manager is a leadership position.

It’s more than numbers.

Sales leadership isn’t waiting for people to turn in their numbers. It’s doing the work of helping them to make their numbers. Leadership is building your team’s ability and capacity to perform, as well as the abilities and capacities of the individuals that make up that team.

Leadership is helping others to grow.

That usually means handling the bureaucratic demands of the organization to spend more time in the field with your salespeople. It means intervening on their behalf to get them the exceptions that they need to win their deal, as well as the resources they need to keep their promises and serve their clients.

Leading requires an investment of time and an investment in caring for people.

Putting numbers before people is a recipe for producing poor numbers and destroying people. Caring about your people and putting them first is how you make your number.

Everyone deserves a good leader

Every employee, even the lowly, brand-new salesperson deserves a good leader. They deserve someone that cares about them personally and someone that will do all that they can to help them succeed.

For salespeople, this means a leader that gives their time and their attention. It means a leader that coaches and develops them, and it means riding along with the salesperson on their sales calls.

A good leader isn’t required to carry dead weight. But they are required to be honest and ask themselves if their salesperson has failed them, or if they have failed their salesperson.


What are the attributes that make up a good leader?

What attributes does a follower need a good leader to possess?

What do good sales leaders do that lesser sales leader do not?

How important is it to you that you have someone at work that cares bout you and your success?

What would you want from your sales leader? How can you give that to your salespeople?

Post by Anthony Iannarino on December 28, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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