Proper Care & Feeding of a Salesperson

managers supporting salesperson salespeople

Salespeople are the foundation of any business. Without them, there is nothing to do. Literally. Without sales, there is no need for marketing, operations, IT, or HR departments. Basically, nobody has a job unless sales does their job – and does it well.

That puts sales in a slightly different light, doesn’t it? Whether you’re a sales manager, leader, or coworker of salespeople, thinking of sales as the bedrock of the business may change your perspective and allow you to understand the stress (and maybe even the tension) that comes from working with sales teams.

Now, let’s talk about salespeople.

These are complex and unique creatures. They come in many different varieties and all sorts of styles. And yes, some salespeople do have higher-than-average confidence and larger egos, but do you ever think about how many times they heard “no” before they landed that sale? You have to have some pretty thick skin to be in a sales role. Salespeople have constant pressure from every direction, from supporting their personal lives to supporting the future of the business, defense from the competition, and offense for the marketplace…the list ever ends.  

It is because of all of these pressures that salespeople have unique needs and require special attention and care. Therefore, as a sales manager/leader you have to be more than just that title – you have to be a people manager + confidant + magician + therapist + cheerleader, and so much more.  Much like a high-performing athlete, salespeople need the right environment to thrive. We tell our clients that salespeople are like teeth; you only need to take care of the ones you want to keep. So, let’s talk about the proper care and feeding of a salesperson. 

How would you want to be treated?

Think about your own relationship with your manager. Did your manager respect your time and effort? Or did they push, push, push till the point of burnout?  Goals are real. Budgets are real. But people matter more. There are effective ways to nurture these complicated folks and support them – all without losing any quality of work.

Don’t Nag: In tough times, your sales team already KNOWS their numbers are down. So, being constantly reminded or nagged does not foster a motivational environment. Instead of shaming your team when the numbers aren’t there, consider providing constructive feedback. Review where they might have gone off track and how they can improve next time. As a leader, you are there to coach your team to victory. You can use the loss as an opportunity to learn. 

Equip for Success: Use continuing education courses to keep everyone sharp and on their game. By giving them the tools they need to win, like CRM software, product training, and sales methodology coaching, they’ll feel prepared and backed with useful resources.

Set SMART Goals: Break down goals into smaller, achievable milestones for regular check-ins and celebrations. For more details on SMART goals, check out this blog.

Ongoing Coaching/training: This is where the cheerleading comes in – refine their skills, address challenges, and celebrate.

Recognize and Reward: A little appreciation goes a long way. Public recognition, performance-based bonuses, and team building show them they are valued and loved.

Encourage collaboration: Sales can be really lonely even though salespeople are usually surrounded by others. Create a space where they can learn from each other and bounce ideas around.

Here are some Don’ts:

Micromanage: Give your salespeople the autonomy they need to be successful. Don’t suffocate or hover.

Only talk numbers: Salespeople know their numbers and results are important, but recognize the hustle they put in to get to the numbers.

Compare them to one another: Healthy competition is fine, but pitting them against one another is the quickest way to kill their inspiration and motivation. Your goal is not to turn them into your #1 Rep, Sally or Sam, but into the best version of themselves that they can be.

Take their hard work for granted: That’s a surefire way to burn someone out. Salespeople are sensitive, requiring consistent acknowledgment and support to maintain motivation and productivity.

Being a successful sales leader or manager requires finesse and balance.

Every salesperson has needs unique to them, which is why it’s important to use your soft skills to get to know people on an individual level. Learn about their lives outside of work – family, hobbies, etc. At the end of the day, salespeople are, in fact, just people. They need to be supported and cared for to continue to thrive. We don’t mean to make salespeople sound like houseplants, but the occasional drink and sunshine can do them some good. Think of it like a cycle: you provide a supportive and respectful work environment, which, in turn, boosts motivation and job satisfaction, which enhances their performance as they feel valued and empowered to succeed in their roles. And repeat!

Need more help? Sometimes, part of the proper care and feeding feels like cat herding! At Orange Leaf Consulting, coaching is just one of the things we specialize in. We can help you brush up on your wrangling skills to get the most out of your team.