Mindset toxicity destroys sales performance - angry boss yelling at salespeople

The pace of the leader is the speed of the pack

by Chris Young

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

Mindset toxicity destroys sales performance - angry boss yelling at salespeople

Mindset toxicity among your sales leaders will destroy your sales performance.

No excuses. No second chances.

Sometimes organizations are in denial about the reality of their sales leadership. Strong and weak sales leaders paint two entirely different pictures. Which one fits your business?

1. Weak leaders DESTROY possibility in your sales team.

Sales Wolves - the top 20th percentile of sales performers, the elite sales talent every organization covets - loathe weak leaders. Sales Wolves only work well with Sales Wolf managers. They require strong leaders to model the way. Fail to meet this essential need and your Sales Wolves either check out or move on to one of your competitors.

This is a universal truth.

The rest of your sales team may stick around, but they will never realize their full potential. Weak leaders do not hold the sales team accountable for their activity and their actual sales performance. They are terrible role models who cannot demonstrate what it takes to be successful. They often play favorites, which is a complete morale cancer that will drive away even average performers.

Who will be left? In time, only your worst performers. The pace of the leader is the speed of the pack.

You would probably be shocked at how many weak sales leaders sit atop seemingly successful companies. I am not shocked. I meet them frequently. Strong sales leaders set the pace for salespeople - woman leader pointing to the future

Perhaps you believe your organization has safeguards in place to prevent weak sales leaders rising through the ranks. Unfortunately, it occurs all too often. Typically one of two ways:

  1. The company organically grew in a manner that thrust weak leaders into the role. As the business model grows and is required to model excellence, weak leaders become a hazard to future prosperity and must be helped or moved out.
  2. The person hiring the weak leader and / or the person the weak leader is reporting to is a weak leader themselves. This typically occurs because weak leaders often avoid those who push them, thus the selection and hiring of weak leaders.

I have worked for and have coached weak and strong sales leaders alike. I have also dealt with the wreckage of weak sales leaders and the incredible value unleashed by strong sales leaders.

2. Strong sales leaders model the way and earn RESPECT.

Successful sales leaders have the respect of their Sales Wolves. They do not ask salespeople to do what they themselves are unwilling to do. They praise in public and they hold accountable privately where possible. They push their salespeople to reach their own potential. They share the vision and expect salespeople to live up to that vision without exception.

Strong sales leaders are intolerant of low performance. They keep the sales team strong by removing those who are unable or unwilling to live up to the standards of the sales team.

Cultivate strong sales leaders to set the pace.

Future strong leaders are often found within the existing sales team - but sales assessments and benchmarks are essential. Undoing the damage of a poor sales leader is far more time-intensive (and expensive) than choosing the right sales leaders in the first place. And the worst thing you can do is reward a seemingly high-performing salesperson with a promotion that in the end will Peter Principle them.

Skills in one role do not necessarily translate to another. That is the very definition of the Peter Principle. A strong salesperson performs well, so it makes sense to move them into management, right?

Not necessarily. The Peter Principle in effect dooms certain salespeople who are not the right fit for management roles to fail. Yet, companies still engage in the practice of promoting salespeople under this assumption.

Use thorough assessments to determine which salespeople will make future successful managers. Then, benchmark the role and make sure that your future sales leaders have the entire sales hiring scorecard maximized in terms of experience, education, background and sales personality.

Recognize the problem and fix it.

Maybe you have made mistakes and allowed weak sales leaders to pervade your organization. It is rarely too late. Constantly be on the lookout for signs of toxicity. Where there is smoke, there is definitely fire when it comes to salesperson morale.

The ultimate way; however, is to use sales assessments like the TriMetrix® HD. The assessments serve two essential purposes:

  • Quantification of sales talent potential through Behaviors, Driving Forces, Acumen and Competencies. With this information, one knows definitively each salesperson’s performance capacity - whether that salesperson is metaphorically a VW Beetle or a Porsche 911 Turbo.
  • Sales management accountability. If a particular salesperson is a Porsche 911 Turbo equivalent and they leave for greener pastures and better sales management, there MUST be a reckoning.

Never allow excuses.

We are still stuck in a time where a sales manager can say, “You know how it is… Good salespeople are tough to find.” When we can objectively measure the sales potential of a salesperson and objectively quantify their potential, good salespeople are not driven out nor shown the door by lousy sales managers. 

Weak leaders become the weak link and are recognized for destroying talent that has been quantified objectively to be good. It is the equivalent to wrecking a perfectly beautiful Porsche 911 Turbo. Smart CEOs and shareholders will not tolerate wrecked Porsche 911 Turbos.

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