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Why Should They Follow You (A Note to the Sales Manager)

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
November 20, 2010

The job title may be sales manager. The duties and responsibilities may be managerial in scope. But if you are to succeed in sales management, you must choose to lead you sales force instead of simply managing. To succeed, your sales force will have to follow you.

They Don’t Have to Follow, They Choose To

Regardless of your organizational chart with all its neat little boxes and lines, no one has to follow you. The fact that your sales force reports to you in no way suggests that your sales force follows you and accepts you as their leader.

More still, they don’t have to follow you.

Some may simply resist you. They will listen to every word you say, they will read every email you send them, and they will ignore you completely. Some may seek to simply wait you out.

Some may be vocal opponents. They will argue with you against your efforts and seek to join others to their cause. They will make their feelings known, and they won’t hide them. They will test your resolve.

Others will passively and reluctantly do what is asked of them, never embracing your initiatives and never committing themselves completely. Others may leave.

For any and all of these groups to choose to follow you, and it is their choice, you have to be someone worth following.

You Must Care Deeply For Their Success

If you would produce results through others, if you would be a leader, you have to care deeply about them and about helping them to achieve their own success.

You must work to help ensure that they have all of the tools, all of the technologies, and all of the training that success in sales requires. You will also have to help them sell inside, moving the obstacles that prevent their success, and eliminating the constraints that hold them back.

Leadership is an act of love. It means being there to ensure that those you lead succeed. Only by ensuring their success do you yourself succeed.

If you would be followed, lead. This means standing side-by-side with those you leave, especially when it is difficult, and especially when you alone are the one who can help them to succeed.

You Must Be the Standard and Instill Them with Esprit de Corps

If you would lead, you do so by setting the standard. You must be the living example of what it is you would have them be.

If you would have a sales force that is courageous enough to make the choice to take the difficult actions that success requires, you must lead them in making those choices. If you would have them fight above their weight class, if you would have them do the disciplined work of the plow horse, then you must lead by dong so yourself.

For your sales force to follow, you have to provide them with the meaning and the mission. You have to give insist that they be instilled with an esprit de corp.

If you are to be followed, you must be someone worth following.


    1. Because your sales force is required to report to you, does that mean they must necessarily follow you? Is the authority of your title enough for them to follow?
    1. Why do you need your sales force to follow you as their sales manager? Why isn’t this authority enough to produce as great of results as would be possible if they followed for other reasons?
    1. Can you really make others follow you? Who do you have to be for your sales force to choose to follow you?
    1. Why must you care deeply for the success and well-being of those you lead before you can expect them to reciprocate in kind?
    1. What must you do to inspire them to follow you and the standard that you hold?
  1. How do you inspire them with the fighting spirit, the esprit de corps that all great teams possess? How do you bring your meaning and your mission to life?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.

Read my interview with Tom Peters (Part One and Part Two).

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on November 20, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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