Joe Ellers: Killer Sales Teams

When is enough, enough? How about Never!

Joe Ellers, STAFDA Sales Consultant
Joe Ellers, STAFDA Sales Consultant

Have you ever wondered, “How much is enough?” Have you ever thought, “Do I need a killer sales team or is what I’ve got ok?” As managers, do we really need to be our best? Do you really have the ongoing obligation to help your people be their best and grow? Or is it ok to rest on your laurels and just maintain?

Truthfully, I don’t get this type of comment very often, mainly because most people would be afraid to say it publicly, even though they may be thinking it privately. But the question remains: When is enough, enough? I can’t answer that for you; it’s more of a philosophical question. But I can offer this bit of advice from several viewpoints.

The Market Case
No business runs on a level, flat line — you’re either moving forward or moving backward, either growing or shrinking. It used to be that just maintaining relationships was enough to maintain orders within an account.

But with increased competition, lower prices and competition against lower overseas wages, this notion of ‘just maintaining the status quo’ is becoming more and more of a farce. You’ve simply got to continually sell your customers on you, your product and anything else you deliver on. And as the sales manager, it’s obviously your job to make sure your team is doing these things.

Even if you are satisfied with your team’s current sales volume, there’s a little thing called attrition. Customers go elsewhere, go out of business or no longer need or desire your product or service. Anyone who thinks their business (or sales team) can just skate by and NOT continue to be a “killer” force in their market is in for a rude awakening.

As a sales manager or senior executive, it’s always a nice “plus” to have a killer sales team, but these days, it’s more than just a luxury — it’s an absolute necessity. You’ve simply got to have a killer sales team that gets results well above the norm if you want to continue to grow. And unfortunately, a lot of the sales teams I run into are just average.

The Ethics & Obligations Case
Here are a few truths to ponder:

  1. You are a sales MANAGER, and as such it is your JOB to manage.
  2. It is your JOB to set the course and direction of the team and individual members.
  3. It is your JOB to help, assist, train and motivate members.

You’re the leader and you have an OBLIGATION to create an environment of continuous achievement and improvement. You are responsible for the forward momentum of the team and the individuals who make up the team. You are the person who is spear-heading new heights, helping go-getters break more records. You are the compass that gives direction, insight and empowerment to the members.

Plainly put, if you accept the position of manager, you have the OBLIGATION from a humanistic and ethical standards viewpoint to facilitate an environment where people grow into killer sales people.

Having an average, just ok or outright mediocre sales team is not only bad economic strategy, it goes against basic human decency and the accepted ethical standards of a senior manager to accept anything less than “killer” performance from individuals and teams.

Which leads us back to our original question: “Should I build a killer sales team or not? Is it ok to settle for good enough?” I think the answer is pretty clear:

  1. Economically, ”good enough” just won’t cut it anymore. It will come back to bite you.
  2. Ethically, “coasting” and “business as usual” don’t befit the position of an honest sales manager.

If you’re just coasting, step up to the plate:

  • Commit to making a change
  • Commit to your team
  • Do something better
  • Find out what to do differently
  • Stop doing some things
  • Start — right now — being a killer sales manager who runs a killer sales team

The “What’s In It For Me” Case
I could talk all day on just this, but let me sum it up in a few words: Each of us, on some level, has a certain amount of greed. Some of us are willing to admit this more than others. “What’s in it for me?” comes up in our mind and subconscious more than we know. It’s just part of our decision making process.

When we analyze this a little further we consider
WHY we would want to go to the extra effort to Do More, Get Better, Make a Change, etc., obviously the WHY is different for each of us.

Here are a few WHY’s that I’ve seen be effective motivators for many sales managers to go from managing an ok team to running a killer sales organization. See if any of these hit home with you:

MONEY: If your compensation or bonuses are tied to results, obviously there’s money it for you to take your team from average or above average to “killer.”

PRIDE: If you relish self-accomplishment and accolades, there’s nothing better than being the best.

PROMOTION: Leaders who run killer sales teams get noticed — by superiors, competitors and others in the industry. If you’re trying to make a name for yourself, there’s no quicker way to do that than being known and respected as the person who built an unbelievable sales team that crushed their competition.

AUTHORITY: Some people love their trade associations and want to be known as a leader by their peers.

If this is you, and you want to be the big-shot in your national trade association, you want to become the authority, you want to be they person they ask to come speak from the podium, when you become known as the person who runs the kind of killer team we’re talking about; You’ll be ‘famous’ in your own little world. You’ll be on the short-list of guest experts, speakers and authorities within your trade associations. It’s the shortest route to rock-star status!

I could go on, but the above four reasons cover a vast majority of sales managers. If you’re not sure where to start and want some help, I’d be happy to lend a hand.
All the best! CS

Joe Ellers, STAFDA’s Sales Consultant, is a sales trainer and strategist to the distribution and manufacturing industry with extensive experience in building industry sales, distribution and contractor's perspective. Joe has consulted with hundreds of companies all over the world, and personally trained thousands of sales staff and managers
over the last 25 years. You can find additional information on Joe’s website at