Best-in-class sales leaders are blurring the lines between professional and personal. As a result, they are outperforming sales bosses on a revenue-per-head basis by double digits. In a most recent Gallup study, engaged employees produce on average 20% more higher sales than those that are not.


Sales Bosses are representative of Sales 1.0: hire, train and manage to a quota. Fair exchange of money for work done.


Sales Leaders are representative of Sales 2.0: engage the sales person through personal connection and professional job satisfaction. Adapt one’s leadership style for the individual and treat them the way they need to be treated to harness their unique capabilities.


Great sales people are competitive and emotional; it is what makes them great.


  • Logical management tactics (activity standards, closing ratios, pipeline) are no longer sufficient.
  • Emotional management strategies (personal connection, tailored coaching, qualitative measures) take precedence.


Like buyers, sales people have access to more information. A bad day or bad week can now result in a real time search for other options on LinkedIn or Facebook. Winners want to win; when they don’t feel they are winning internally and externally they will look for a venue that can provide this.


Here are 4 trends from CSOs that are leading the way in this transformation. To access a complete resource of emerging best practices to develop sales talent, review the “How to Make Your Number in 2018” Workbook. Flip to the People Plan phase starting on page 367. You can also go straight to the interactive tool.


1. Risk Taking –

  • A Sales Boss says: “We have never done that before; lets stick with what has worked.”
  • A Sales Leader says: “Fail forward and take calculated risks to achieve the objective.”


Promote a culture that celebrates failure. If people are not seeking failure by trying new things, your organization is not optimized. You are playing not to lose vs. playing to win.


2. Creativity – 

  • A Sales Boss says: “Just follow the playbook and you will be successful.”
  • A Sales Leader says: “Push back and generate new ideas to serve the customers.”


Teresa Amabile’s work at Harvard has continued to emphasize creative opportunity as a key lever in employee engagement.


3. New Capability Acquisition –

  • A Sales Boss says: “Come to work, make your number, get paid and be happy.”
  • A Sales Leader says: “New capability acquisition is the best predictor of future income”.


And so the coach goes, the team goes. The best sales leaders we see are educating and investing in themselves. Leaders are teachers and teachers need constant education. You will never have an ‘A’ player leave and say “you over invested in me and taught me too much”.


4. Progress – 

  • A Sales Boss says: “If you make your number, you are doing a good job.”
  • A Sales Leader says: “Quota is a lagging indicator and the number one leading indicator is daily progress.”


Most sales people spend at least 65% of their day working. Nobody wants to run in place for more than half of their day. If people are making incremental progress they feel rewarded. This translates into feeling good about oneself and staying engaged over long periods of time.


Call To Action

Start your next sales meeting or employee 1-on-1 and ask your team how often they feel about the four points above. Don’t censor the conversation.  It might feel counterintuitive to do this; which is exactly why you should. It starts with you. Good luck!


To dive deeper into planning your talent strategy and people plan, leverage SBI’s “How to Make Your Number in 2018” Workbook or interactive tool. 


Sales Revenue Growth


Matt Sharrers

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by embracing emerging best practices to grow revenue faster than the industry and competitors. 

Matt Sharrers is the CEO of SBI, a management consulting firm specialized in sales and marketing that is dedicated to helping you Make Your Number. Forbes recognizes SBI as one of The Best Management Consulting Firms in 2017.


Over the course of nearly a decade at SBI, Matt Sharrers was an instrumental early partner guiding SBI as the Senior Partner. Matt’s functional responsibilities included acting as the head of sales where he led SBI’s double-digit revenue growth, and was responsible for the hiring function to build SBI’s team of revenue generation experts.


Prior to joining SBI in 2009, Matt spent eleven years leading sales and marketing teams as a Vice President of Sales. Matt has “lived in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. CEOs and Private equity investors turn to Matt’s team at SBI when they need to unlock trapped growth inside of their companies.



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