Where’s Your Sales Team’s Promise to the Business?

Why is it, that so many salespeople seem to believe that growing the business doesn’t really fit into their job description?

And in certain sectors, there are teams who have convinced themselves that the role is less about “sales” – and more about being industry “experts”

Obviously being an expert in your field is important – but if you were a fly on the wall in the lion’s share of sales meetings – you’d  hear more excuses than solutions – when the sales manager asks where everyone is up to regarding the sales target.

In an effort to protect their teams from the harsh reality of the situation, sales managers can often be heard saying things like; “Now – clearly – this isn’t the kind of company that just gets rid of people when they’re not hitting target – but we’re really going to have to find some new business.”

But that’s when the sales team – who don’t seem to recognise the generous and understanding nature of the golden goose in front of them – decide that what the hierarchy really need, is healthy dose of reality. They think the management team need to be told what’s really happening out in the market place – and why these crazy notions of targets and business growth just aren’t possible.

So, what can a sales manager do?

To be fair, on some occasions, I bet you think the team might be right.

When the opportunities in your sales pipeline are pretty much non-existent and you find yourself in an industry that’s difficult to effectively forecast or plan for future opportunities. When recent targets have become more of a wish list than a business plan – and everyone is just reacting to the immediate needs of customers who come looking for you, rather being able to take control of your own future.

But of course, that’s not what the Board want to hear – they’ve got big plans – and if you can’t get this team to uncover a couple of big new numbers (from anywhere, no one really cares where) – then they’re going to start wondering whether you’re up to the job.

But when you present that (personal career threatening truth) back to the team – you get the same old lines coming across the table at you (I’m sure you’ve got a few you could add to this list yourself);

“The marketing team are useless”

“There aren’t any decent leads coming in for me to follow up on” 

“My account base don’t want to see me until I have something new to present”

“We can’t break into that new marketplace – the competition have got it all tied up”

And I reckon that’s not a very fair way to treat all the good sales managers out there who are trying their best for their teams.

So, if you’re looking after your team properly – coaching them, negotiating wage rises and bonuses, sending them on training courses, stopping most of the crap that comes from above filtering down to them  – there’s a question that I reckon you should adopt and make your own this year – and it’s this;

“OK, if that’s the case – Where’s Your Promise to the Company?”

Because I’m assuming the company has made (and kept) a promise to the team.

They promised to look after them with all the points in their contract and all the things mentioned in the job advert and interview – including the regular income.

Those were promises that the business made to the sales team – so where’s the sales teams promise to the business?

So, if the sales team tell you that;

“There aren’t any decent leads coming in for me to follow up on”

You need to start responding with something like;

“OK, if that’s the case, what are we going to do about it before the next sales meeting? What’s your promise to the company?”

Or if they say;

“My current account base don’t want to see me until I have something new to present – so that forecast isn’t coming from there!”  

You could respond with;

“OK, if that’s the case, what are you going to do about it before the next sales meeting? What’s your promise to the company?”

And if you present the target requirements for the next quarter and you hear;

“We can’t break into that new marketplace, the competition have got it all tied up”

You’ve guessed it;

“OK, if that’s the case, what are you going to do about it before the next sales meeting? What’s your promise to the company?”

Because here’s the thing that people seem to forget (or never actually think about) – the sales team’s function is to solve a particular problem – to deliver the answer to a specific question – and that question is;

“How do we find ways to grow this business in a sustainable and profitable way”

It is the sales team’s responsibility to find new business, while keeping (and growing) the business they have within their existing client base.

Never let anyone on a business to business sales team tell you that a particular industry or sector cannot be prospected for new opportunities – it isn’t true.

Every sector has the capacity for new business discovery by a well prepared, talented sales team.

What those salespeople are actually saying is;

“I don’t know how to find new business in this sector – I can only close business that comes looking for me!”

And business that is already coming in – doesn’t need a highly paid external sales team – it just needs a showroom or internal customer care department.

So, if your sales team have made a habit of bringing you reasons why your sales target can’t be achieved – rather than solutions to how it can, then maybe asking;

“OK, that’s fine, but if that’s the case – where’s your promise to the company?”

might help you to finish sales meetings this year with a few more opportunities than problems.


Interested in finding out more?


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Our Sales Management Open Workshops show you how to piece together the four main elements of successfully managing a team – Focus; Accountability; Motivation; Education – and show you how to get the best out of everyone involved.

At the end of this workshop delegates will be able to:

  • Work out how to focus on the real tasks that need to be achieved – and find a way to ensure every member of their team is doing that too.
  • Create a culture where every member of the team understands that they are accountable and responsible for their own success – and recognise exactly what that makes them accountable for.
  • Genuinely motivate people to over deliver -and even more importantly – learn how to make sure you don’t demotivate them.
  • Coach the entire team to greater things – learn how to give them a net of their own rather than continuously feeding them individual fish.
  • Feel competent and confident enough to conduct staff discipline in a professional (and legal) manner.


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