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Your team isn’t doing the work they need to succeed in sales. You hired people who have experience in B2B sales, and you believe they should know what to do—and do it. Eventually, you might believe there are no good salespeople. According to David Hackworth, author of Steel in My Soldiers’ Hearts, there is an old saying in militaries that addresses this idea: “There are no bad troops, just bad officers.”

When promoted to sales manager or sales leader, you might believe that your team will work like you worked when you were selling. But when your team doesn’t share your enthusiasm or work ethic, you may become frustrated with them. When this is true, it is the leader that needs to change, not the sales force.

One of the responsibilities of a sales leader is to ensure every member of their team is doing the right work, in the right way, and at the right time. If your team is not doing this work, it is your failure.

It’s the sales leader or sales manager’s responsibility to lead their team to do the work necessary for success. You can find help on transforming your sales force in Leading Growth: The Proven Formula for Consistently Increasing Revenue, a practical, tactical approach to leading a sales force.

Start with Your Expectations

Those of us who believe that our people will work like we do will be disappointed to find that they do too little work or do it in a way that isn’t optimal, or not doing the work when it needs to be done.

You can start to change your sales force by sharing your expectations of what they need to do throughout their day and their work week. Without telling them exactly what to do, you will find that some do too little and some do nothing. If you are lucky, you’ll have a couple people who already do the work without additional motivation.

Focus on Outcomes

One temptation of the sales manager is to set activity targets for their team. When a salesperson or a sales team isn’t generating activity, imposing a target isn’t likely to help you improve your sales results. Maybe your team engages in enough activity to meet the target, but produces nothing for their effort.

You are better off imposing outcomes instead. For example, you might ask your sales team to make 50 outbound calls. Your team makes the calls, but they don’t book a first meeting. You would be better off requiring them to book three first meetings a week. It may take one salesperson 10 phone calls to fulfill the outcome, while another salesperson needs to make 60 calls.

Activity is important, but outcomes are critical, as you can’t succeed without producing something for your effort. Activity isn’t the same as effective activity.

Holding Your Team Accountable

The leader who doesn’t hold their sales force accountable for their sales targets will have no chance of reaching their sales goals. Once you have shared your expectations and the outcomes your team needs to succeed, you must hold them accountable. You also need to build a cadence by holding regular accountability meetings to ensure your team is on track.

You are a busy sales manager. You are being pulled in all directions day to day. You may be tempted to skip an accountability meeting, but doing so can cause your team to believe that the changes you are making will pass. In any group of people, you will find some who will try to wait you out, so it’s best to avoid giving anyone that opportunity.

Once you start taking control of your sales force, you can’t let up until everyone on your team is meeting your expectations. Otherwise, you will find your team is happy to go back to the way it was before. You must stay the course until you are certain there is no chance of going back.

Some People Will Not Do the Work

There are people who will not be willing to do the work you expect, and they will fail to produce the outcomes both of you need to hit your sales targets. You will need to intervene, coaching the salesperson who isn’t doing what they need to do. In Leading Growth: The Proven Formula for Consistently Increasing Revenue, I suggest you treat the person like you would want your children to be treated should they struggle. However, if the salesperson isn’t willing to do the work, you must replace them with someone who is.

Know that your people look at how you treat people who are failing. You need clean hands, meaning that everyone knows you were working with the person failing to do the work, and that you gave them every chance to turn around. As much as you want someone to succeed, some will not do what they need to do, even though you try your best to save them. Some don’t want saving.

Why Your Team Doesn’t Work

Without your setting clear expectations, your team may do less work. Without a focus on outcomes, you will find that all the activity in the world is important, but unless it results in the desired outcome. Every great sales manager holds their teams accountable for the outcomes they need to generate and win opportunities. Without any of these good sales manager practices, sales management will be difficult.

Any lack of outcomes and results always belong to the sales manager or sales leader, as they are responsible for their team’s results. Those who believe the salesperson is to blame will continue to fail to produce the results they need until they change.

Leaving this article, make the changes that will cause your team to do the work they need so you all can reach your goals and targets.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on September 16, 2023

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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