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If you are a parent of two or more children and treat all of them the same, you are abusing some of them. Your children are different, unique individuals, and they need something different from you at different times of their growth. This is true no matter how many children you have; they’re all different, and they all need different things from you at different times.

Managing salespeople is no different.

It’s Not Fair

A sales manager I know was recently accused of playing favorites. He wasn’t accused of giving the best opportunities to the salespeople he liked or to the salespeople that were performing the best. He wasn’t accused of withholding promising leads from poor performers. I would likely have been fine with either of those decisions under the right circumstances. What some considered unfair was his requirement that some salespeople do more prospecting and that they track their activity.

To civilians, this may appear to be unfair. Why would some salespeople be required to do things that others aren’t? But this isn’t at all unfair.

Many people struggle with self-discipline, and salespeople are no different. It might seem unfair to require some salespeople to do more of some activity than others. It might seem unfair to require that some salespeople report different activity. But this is what a good sales manager does: she manages the individual salesperson, giving them what they need to succeed.

If a lack of activity was what is holding a salesperson back, then requiring more activity may be necessary for that salesperson. If the salesperson needs accountability to succeed, then it’s right to require it. What would be unfair would be to treat the rest of the sales force as if they had a lack of activity and weren’t already accountable for their results.

It Can’t Be Otherwise

It really can’t be otherwise. To pretend that all of your salespeople need the same thing from you as their manager or leader is to deny that they are different people, that they have different needs, that they have different challenges, and that they are in different stages of their personal and professional development.

To treat all of your salespeople the same is to abuse some of them.


How does a sales manager really play favorites?

Is it right or necessary to treat all salespeople the same?

Do all salespeople on a team have the same needs at the exact same time?

How do you develop the individuals on your team? How do you account for their differences?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 30, 2012

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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