The 11 Things Great Sales Leaders DON’T DO!

This is a follow up to the 11 Things Great Sales People Don’t Do. There are two sides to sales. The sales people and the those that lead them. Each of them has a distinct and different role. Sales people go and sell. They are the front lines. The sales leaders, they have to support, direct, lead and motivate the sales team. Like the best sales people, it’s what sales leaders don’t do that makes them great. Knowing what to do AND what not to do is critical to driving optimal sales teams. Great sales leaders don’t do the following and it’s why they’re great.

1) Sell

Great sales leaders don’t sell. Yeah, I know this one is going to torque a lot of you, because I see sales leaders out selling in the field all the time. But, I’m gonna be clear on this. It’s not sales leader’s job to sell. It’s their job to support the sales people to sell better. Great sales leaders know it’s not their job to do the selling. They know that they are no longer an individual contributor and that their job has changed. They recognize it’s not their job  to do the selling but to find killer people who can sell and then support them with everything they can to be successful. Average sales leaders sell. The sell to make up for their inability to identify good talent, to effectively coach sales people into great sales people or/and an inability to adequately support their team. This is a problem. Great sales leaders don’t have this problem so they don’t have to sell for their people.

2) Micromanage

Telling everyone how to do their jobs is the fastest way to destroy a good sales team there is. People want to own their success. They want to feel empowered. People want to feel they have a say and are able to control their own destiny. Great sales leaders understand this and don’t micromanage. They empower their people to make decisions for themselves. They build organizations that allow people to create their own work and approaches. Great sales leaders are not prescriptive, they don’t tell people what to do, when to do it, or how to do it. They allow their teams to leverage their own creative ideas, talents and skills to develop and attack their territories and accounts. They understand their teams need to feel empowered and be given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merit. Great sales leaders let their people do their job.

3) Act Like Assholes

Great sales managers don’t yell and scream, threaten or bully their sales people. You’d think this goes without saying, but the old school sales world is still alive and well in too many organizations. Great sales leaders recognize that ultimatums and threats don’t make the number, but just creates high-turnover. Great sales leaders see the character from Glenngarry Glenn Ross is a stain on selling. The old school culture of make quota or hit the road is dying and great sales leaders know this. Great sales leaders are anything but assholes. Don’t be an asshole.

4) Pass the Buck

As a leader, when something goes wrong under your watch, it’s your responsibility. Great sales leaders don’t pass the buck. They don’t blame others, they take responsibility for their team and what happens under their watch. There is no finger pointing with great sales leaders. They take full accountability for their teams actions. They understand if it happens under their watch it is their responsibility — period. They don’t pass the buck.

5) Take Credit

When things go bad, it’s the sale leaders fault. When good things happen, it’s because the sales team got it done. Great sales leaders don’t take credit from their team. They give credit everywhere they can. Great sales leaders know regardless of how much effort they put into something, credit always goes to their team. Great sales are good at giving credit and not taking it.

6) Have Lots of Useless Meetings

Hmmm, how often do we see this? Sales leadership inundates their people with useless meetings designed to keep them up to date. The meetings offer little value to the sales people, particularly in helping them sell. They are most often the result of management needing more information or control of the selling process. Great sales leaders know that more meetings WILL NOT help sales people sell more or be more successful. They recognize it’s their job to get the data and information they need in as non-disruptive way as possible. They don’t let their needs get in the way of selling.

7) Create too Many Non-Selling Tasks

Sales people can get sucked into too many non-selling activities. They get stuck with status updates, emails, reports, and more. Great sales leaders understand that the more time sales people spend selling, the more they will sell. Great sales leaders don’t create too many non-selling activities. They do their best to give sales people as much selling time as possible. The know it’s their job to clear their teams plates so they can just sell.

8) Ignore their Team

When a sales says, quota’s are too high, the product doesn’t meet the customers needs, the competition is getting an edge, the product is too expensive, the territories are weak, they need more marketing support, great leaders listen. Too often sales leadership blames sales people for poor revenue performance and they should. It’s sales job to sell. But, great sales leaders recognize that sales is on the front lines and see things before anyone else. They recognize the sales team can be a leading indicator and therefore they don’t ignore them when they bring forward concerns. Great sales leaders don’t assume that when sales says the product is too expensive or if their losing because they don’t have a feature it’s because they can’t sell. Great sales leaders listen to their team, recognizing that they see things the rest of the organization doesn’t and that is valuable information. Great sales leaders never ignore their team.

9) Hire “C” Players

Hiring “C” players is the tell tale sign of a week and poor sales leader. Average sales leaders hire people below them, those that aren’t as good. They feel threatened and don’t want the competition. Great sales leaders want people on their team better than them, more talented. They understand the only way to win is to have the best people and if you can hire people more talented than you, you’re headed in the right direction. Great sales leaders understand that “C” players hurt the organization and ultimately them. Great sales leaders only hire “A” players and “B” players they believe can be “A” players.

10) Tolerate Mediocrity

How often have you asked yourself, “How is it Bob keeps getting promoted and is a V.P.? Almost every organization has that guy or girl that no on can understand why they are in the position they are. They aren’t very good, but they keep getting moved up. They aren’t “bad” but they aren’t great. They’re just average at best and everyone knows it. Great sales leaders don’t tolerate mediocrity, therefore they don’t promote people who are mediocre. Great sales leaders don’t accept average, they don’t allow people to do the bare minimum. Great sales leaders push and push hard. They push their people to be great, to be “A” players and promote them. Great sales leaders don’t surround themselves with average, they look to surround themselves with exceptional. There is no room for mediocrity on a great sales leaders team.

11) Allow Disfunction

This is probably the most distinguishable trait of great leaders. In today’s corporate world, dysfunction dominates. Fear of being fired, H.R. violations, infighting, backstabbing, aggressive corporate ladder fighting, etc. all undermine the organization and too many leaders are oblivious to the problem, don’t know how to solve it or just don’t care, but great sales leaders do. Great sales leaders don’t allow dysfunction to thrive. They are keenly aware of their teams dynamics and intercede at any moment to prevent the seeds of dysfunction from growing. They understand that if not careful, they can also be the cause of dysfunction and do everything they can to make sure they don’t cause it. Great sales leaders are very proactive, they overly communicate, they embrace a strong coaching cadence and  are very close to the pulse of the organization. Great sales leaders are masters at establishing highly functional teams and win because of it.

Running sales teams is hard. There is a lot you must do, but there is equally a number of things you shouldn’t do. If you’re a sales leader, in addition to the things you do, are you paying attention to the things you shouldn’t do? Don’t get caught doing any of these things. It’ll set you back, if they haven’t already.

Do more of the good stuff and less of the bad. It’s a good recipe for success.