top of page
  • Brent Bonine

Sales Leader or Cat Herder - Which one are you?

Lets’ face it – salespeople are different. They are confident, independent, out-going, outspoken, reward-driven performers. They must be good at asking questions while at the same time, looking for opportunities to solve problems. They need to hunt for new opportunities while nurturing existing deals. They are always under pressure to perform and unlike most positions in a company, other employees know when salespeople aren’t meeting expectations. They constantly face rejection but continue to persevere to win. They are a different breed.

Today’s marketplace represents a constantly changing environment. Virtual selling, social media, new customer retention and acquisition techniques require a sales force that is flexible, adaptable and responds quickly to changing conditions. It is the Sales Leaders responsibility for organizing and managing these unique individuals to achieve results for the company.

Traditional sales management standards of hiring/firing, process management, compensation, mentoring, and leadership are still cornerstones of sales management. However, today’s Sales Leaders must also seek to align sales efforts to company objectives. The sales management process must put more value on scalability, accountability, predictability, and elimination of wasted effort. Salespeople are expensive and an under-performing sales rep costs the company in dollars, lost opportunities and even a diminished brand.

Effective Sales Leaders cannot afford to manage reps individually. This is like trying to herd cats. While you are busy chasing one, you have no idea what the others are doing. To avoid the “cat-herding” trap, you need to manage sales reps under a common model or framework. There are six common areas within the model that impact all sales reps. Individual reps may have different tasks or assigned goals, but all share a common foundation. The sales expectations model is illustrated below.

These six areas create a common model or view that are shared among all team members. The following describes each area of expectations and what is covered.

1. Activity – What are the key activities required to consistently meet revenue objectives, translate leads into opportunities and translate opportunities into deals? This can include specific tasks and activities like.

a. Number of new prospects contacted

b. Number of presentations made

c. Number of proposals submitted

d. Number of meetings with existing accounts

The key is to set clear expectations for what is expected in a given time frame. If a sales rep is falling behind in their revenue goals, you will probably see that they are also behind in meeting their activity goals.

2. Effectiveness – how proficient are they in their activities? Activity is the “what” and effectiveness is the “how.” Effectiveness measures things like:

a. Closing ratio – how do they compare to others on the team?

b. Average Deal Size – are their deals larger or smaller than other team members?

c. Average Selling Price – are they selling at acceptable margins?

d. Lead conversion to Prospect – converting leads into qualified opportunities

e. Presentation to Proposal conversion – how effective are they at generating proposals to present to qualified prospects?

3. Outcomes – Typically defined by revenue goal attainment. This area can also include time frame of success (deal duration), predictability, and growth in goals and productivity.

4. Communication – Sales reps must understand that their job is more than just closing deals. They are the eyes and ears of the company in the marketplace. Sales Leaders must set expectations for how they expect their sales team to communicate. Communication may include:

a. Consistently exhibit open, honest communication.

b. Deliver reports on time

c. Respond to emails in a timely manner (both internal and external)

d. Communicate clearly with other departments.

5. Responsibility – Sales Reps must take responsibility for their success. There is no room for excuses in sales rep performance. Sales rep responsibilities include.

a. Accept what is expected of you (Activity, Effectiveness, Outcomes, Communication)

b. Do what is required without relying on others for direction

c. Be accountable for your own success (includes asking for help when needed)

d. No excuses

e. Do what you say you are going to do

6. Team Success – Sales reps must acknowledge that they are integral members of a team. They are not “cats” that get to do whatever they want, whenever they want. They must acknowledge their interdependency and work as a positive team member. Team success includes.

a. Do what is right for the company

b. Work as a cohesive team

c. Report real issues to management

d. Set a positive example to your peers and other employees in the company

These six areas create a common foundation for accountability and provide a basis to remove excuses for non-performance. Sales Leaders that set clear expectations and communicate those expectations empower their sales reps to achieve. It is not complicated, or time consuming. It is powerful and provides a common platform from which to manage the team.

7. Bonus Opportunity –Personal Growth - Sales Leaders who want to empower and encourage their salespeople should consider adding a seventh expectation – Personal Growth. Helping sales reps set personal growth goals communicates that you value the rep’s growth and development and want to see them excel in their career. Personal Growth expectations include:

a. Attend a sales training program or read a book on sales skill development

b. Set a goal for personal accomplishment (health goal, family vacation, etc.)

c. Create a personal career plan

d. Create a professional development plan

If you would like a copy of our 1-page Sales Rep Expectation Letter, you can download it by clicking here.

This 1-page template is a simple way of communicating your expectations and provides an easy-to-use format for reviewing their performance.

If you would like to learn more about AcSELLerate and how we help small to mid-size companies develop sales teams that exceed expectations, visit our website at

If you have any questions, feel free to reach me directly at


bottom of page