The best sales leaders build their talent management programs around developing future leaders that can grow the organization not just make the number. Let’s see how you are doing


a) Write down the number of years you have been in sales management
b) Write down the number of people you have promoted that have had success in the new role. Promotions that result in failure do not count

c) If the answer to Question A is more than Question B you are a sales manager.
d) If the answer to Question B is more than Question A you are a sales leader.
e) If you want to be a sales leader, stop neglecting your ‘A’ players. Best in class sales leaders we study promote 1 person per year.


tour-square-button Sales Leaders vs. Sales Managers. And let me preface this: Sales Managers have the best intent; they just need to change their thinking


1. Sales Managers hire people that can make the number today. Sales Leaders hire people that can make the number today and develop those who can create teams of people that can make the number tomorrow through relentless, on purpose coaching


2. Sales Managers want their reps to know that they are the boss, and if tested, can sell better than anybody on the team. Sales Leaders focus on surrounding themselves with people that are better than they are.  This requires self-confidence


3. Sales Managers close deals for their reps and celebrate. As managers, they are worried about their quarterly commission and this is how they keep score.  In doing so they cripple their reps ability to develop. Sales Leaders will let a rep lose a deal and use the opportunity to teach them where in the Sales Process they went wrong.  Watching their team grow new capabilities is how the Sales Leader keeps score.


4. Sales Managers treat everybody the same and spend twice as much time helping ‘C’ players struggle to be C+ players.They view the gap in performance of a ‘C’ player as the problem to solve. Sales Leaders spend twice as much time with an ‘A’ player over a ‘B’ player and almost 3 times as much with an ‘A’ player over a ‘C’ player. They recognize an ‘A’ player deserves a disproportionate amount of their time.


5. Sales Managers have created a culture where time with the boss is perceived as a negative. “oh, no, you have to spend time with the sales manager”.

This can only happen for two reasons: a. You have a team made up of ‘C’ players.  No ‘A’ player or high potential ‘B’ player I know has ever avoided the opportunity to get better.

b. As a Sales Manager, you are a poor coach and add no value.


Sales Leaders have created a culture where the team is fighting over who gets to spend time with the boss. The Sales Leaders’ team is fanatical about constant improvement and sales training time.


1. Change how you plan your month
2. Publish a calendar in advance
3. Follow the 80/20 time allocation methodology. 80% of your coaching  should be spent on‘A’ players and ‘B’ players that can become ‘A’ players in 18 months or less.  C’s get the leftovers.


• Assume you have 160 hours in a month (20 working days x 8 hours per day)
• 120 of these hours (75%) should be spent coaching, training and developing your team
• Attending sales calls, 1 on 1 pipeline reviews, classroom training and individual development plans
• 120 x 80% = 96 hours for A’s and B’s.
o 96 hours (12 days) with ‘A’ & ‘B’ players
o 24 hours (3 days) with ‘C’ players
• You now go to your calendar and schedule your time with your ‘A’ and ‘B’ players
• This time can be broken up in half days depending on your sales territory
• Once those days are confirmed, you can fit the ‘C’ player in the remaining time slots; if you run out of days due to meetings, don’t neglect the A’s. The lowest performer loses their time first.
• You are probably saying “wow, the C players get starved; they may end up leaving”. This is exactly what you want to happen. Allow those ‘C’ players to go be ‘A’ players in something else. Have the courage to do them a favor.


My next post will cover the second part of the solution for those wanting to become sales leaders–what to do when you are with your ‘A’ and ‘B’ players to maximize your sales training opportunity.


Follow @MakingTheNumber


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.



Read full bio >