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Every leader wants control of their team. They want them to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. Many leaders lack a set of strategies that would allow the better results they want. In the worst case, they use force. In the best case, they use inspiration. What follows here is a list of positive strategies leaders can use to have greater control, without harming their results or creating a toxic environment.

Know What Each Person Wants

People do things for their own reasons most of the time, and every person on your team has something they want. The best way to motivate your team is by learning about what is important to them. No one has said this better than Zig Ziglar, who proposed that you can have what you want if you help others to get what they want.

When you tell your team to do something without attaching it to what they want, you will not win hearts or minds. You can also make a mistake by assuming money is the only reason people do things. While nearly everyone on earth wants more money, money-motivated people are fewer in number than you might believe.

Instill Meaning and Purpose

In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, you will find an idea about what we do in B2B sales. Selling isn’t something you are doing to someone, it’s something you do with someone, and for someone. It’s important to instill meaning by recognizing that your clients have real problems, and they need your team’s help. For many people, helping others provides more motivation than money, reaching their goals, or hitting quota.

A sales leader might expend a lot of effort to ensure their team reaches their goals without sharing the importance of their work and the contributions they are making to support their clients. Meaning and purpose will improve performance more than many other ploys you might use to increase control.

Match Autonomy with Discipline

One reason people like their sales role is because it comes with a great amount of autonomy. When you ask the individuals on your team to create their own territory and account plan, you treat them as if they are smart, which, if you made good hires and provided proper training, they probably are. Autonomy allows salespeople to do what they believe is best and provides the control that comes with the responsibility and accountability.

Accountability provides the discipline that balances out autonomy. No one wants a babysitter or a Big Brother, and no leader needs a staff of dependents. As a leader, you can provide the terms and let people be creative.

Status, Recognition, and Gratitude

There are some salespeople on your team who seek status, something like the President’s Club or recognition of winning the largest deal or having the highest win rate. Too few leaders recognize work done well. Instead of being stingy with recognition and gratitude, sales leaders would do well to thank individuals and their team for their good work.

Status, recognition, and gratitude are free. You can never run out of them by thanking your team for their performance and individual accomplishments.

Your Personal Attention and Help

One thing people need is growth. The best leaders can look at a person and see their latent potential, helping them to recognize something about themselves that was hidden. This positive way to control people is by unleashing their potential and their growth. You should offer coaching, training, and development—and your personal interest and help is a powerful tool.

Leaders who don’t believe it is their responsibility to provide personal coaching may have a suboptimal relationship with their sales force. They are also likely to be mediocre and desire growth. A salesperson who is ignored may feel they should move across the street where someone will improve their future.

A Lack of Control and Its Challenges

When you lack compliance, you might find yourself challenged to produce the results you need. Many leaders who want commitment settle for compliance, meaning they don’t have their team’s hearts or minds. Without this level of connection, leaders cannot improve their results. The ideas presented so far can help you cultivate commitment instead of compliance.

There are three ways to approach commitment issues. First, if your team is not doing the work, or doing too little work, their heart isn’t in it. Second, if members of your team are not doing the work in the right way, they need guardrails around autonomy. Third, some salespeople may fail to do the work at the right time. This can also be a sign that they need more accountability.

A lack of control can be an enormous problem, and it can create many others.

Unreasonably Positive Control

There is every reason to list positive strategies that create a positive culture and a greater sense of control. If you want a positive team, you need to be a positive leader. Your team will be what you make it. By looking at performance through the lens of positive motivation, you may see where your current strategies are not producing the results you need.

Positive leaders generally put up better results through their leadership. They also invest their time in their team because being present is also helpful for improving sales performance.

How to Control Your Sales Team

Much of the time, the word control can have a negative connotation. Often, a negative motivation will result in a toxic environment, and eventually, high turnover rates among your teams.

Here, we are focusing on how to gain greater control through positive motivation and the strategies that help generate better outcomes. Take a personal interest in the individuals on your team. This means knowing what they want, instilling meaning and purpose, balancing autonomy with accountability, and providing status, recognition, and gratitude.

Leaving this article, identify the strategies that give you control. Consider new strategies that can help with your sales performance and add them into your leadership approach. You can find more help in Leading Growth: The Proven Formula for Consistently Increasing Revenue. When you buy this book, send me a note so I can send you the workbook.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on September 9, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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