Sales Leaders – are you hands-on or hands-off?

How much time do you spend with each rep? Do some reps never check in and others call you just to complain? Are they seeking answers? Do they listen to your answers?

There is nothing worse than getting instructions from a boss who hasn’t been out seeing a client for a while.
I once had a whingy rep (she lasted 3 months) who after some time declared ‘I have saturated the market, I literally have no more reasons to see anyone’. So, for the next 4 weeks I saw an average of 30 people a week presenting new ideas. Yes, I was exhausted (I didn’t let them see that) but it proved a point and it lifted the mark for everyone for years to follow.

Stick in some grunt work every now and again. Most importantly it will bring you up to speed with current challenges and ways to overcome them, plus allow the team to see that you empathise and understand any roadblocks they are facing. So, when you pitch in with solution ideas to identified problems, they respect these as thought through, well founded and credible.

When making head office decisions I would suggest really working out how to deliver it to the team. Be very clear on the ‘why’ and crucially, how they are to take that message to market. Arm them with how to deliver the message, how to handle questions etc. I know of at least 20 companies that have moved their low value clients over to the internal sales team. Only one of companies handled it well, the other 19 – just left it to the sales reps assuming they would manage it maturely (assumption kicks us up the bum). These reps, in turn, handled it dreadfully by telling the clients that they were low value so ‘unfortunately I can no longer look after you’.

If you, yourself, like to be autonomous and prefer that style, it’s highly likely your leadership style is equally ‘hands-off’. We operate outwardly according to our own default, thinking ‘I hated it when my boss did this, so I won’t do that behaviour’. The same happens if you, when as a rep, needed lots of support, as a leader you may now naturally be assuming your team too need lots of support. Both of these are totally normal reactions. The downside is it’s based on managing you and not managing them. I.e. you could be overlooking a rep who actually needs lots of support or you could be micromanaging someone who is totally competent and capable not wanting so much attention. A good leader recognises that each individual will need them differently.

Equally, each individual’s performance needs to be observed on its own merit. Eg Jane needs lots of close attention as she is new, then when she is competently capable ‘I’ll offer regularly weekly check ins’. Onto, ‘Ah, Jane has missed her target for a few months, she may be off the mark and feeling vulnerable. I will manoeuvrer the situation so that I’m more accessible again as Jane may have slipped back needing more guidance and encouragement’. Good leadership recognises that each individual’s needs around their competence are fluid and fluctuate.


What to do

Spend time with the rep, and note their abilities so that you are in ‘pace’ with them

Learn more

Read: ‘How to drive a high performing team’>>>

Learn: join our live, free webinar for sales leaders where I will be covering the 3 qualities need to drive a high performing team

Smarter Selling is sales and mindset coaching for high performing leaders and teams