No Challenge, No Change

No Challenge, No Change

After spending a day working with a client and their sales team, we normally set up three follow up web based sessions to ensure our recommendations are acted upon and their sales team actually changes.    After the second web based training it is my opinion that the organization most likely will not change. Not because our program and recommendation were inappropriate but Sales Management is failing to coach and challenge their team.

In one of our recent 8 online interactive SLAMMED! Sales Management course discussions, a common topic was How do I get the salespeople to ….update CRM, improve the sales process, prospect….or in reality, how do I effect change.

Working with an experienced sales team or a mix of experience along with younger less experienced salespeople certainly is a challenge for any sales leader but this is where real leadership enters the picture. I see this in many organizations where the sales manager fails to understand how to use various leadership styles to influence their teams or individual members.  They fail to challenge.  I am not suggesting the sales manager becomes a bully i.e. Alec Baldwin in Glengarry, Glen Ross, (if you are unsure of what I am suggesting-it’s worth the time to watch the version.)

What I am suggesting is leadership must be focused on setting the vision, planning the course of action and management must implement and work to achieve the objectives.  Too effectively to cause change individuals must understand the why. Why there is a need to change based upon an organization or industry impact and then why is it important to the individual salesperson.  Sales Managers must seek understand what motivates each individual and where they are on whatever level of experience, ego, maturity, etc.   Leadership theory discusses 5 styles of leadership, knowing which style to use and when is important to understand but becoming the leader is one of the biggest challenges sales managers face.

There are many arguments whether leaders are born or made, I am not addressing that issue in this blog, but knowing what leadership is and what it is responsible for will help the person in a management position to improve their level of professionalism.

If one does not challenge their team to move forward, to improve their skill levels, to work more effectively, 90% of salespeople won’t. The top 10% either don’t need the change or the challenge, they will continue to automatically enhance their professionalism.

To consistency drive higher levels of performance the sales leader must work emotionally to challenge their teams.  This is why in SLAMMED! we start the training on the soft skills of sales leadership, sales management and culture building before moving to the more tactical aspects of sales management. Learning how to emotionally lead will drive your levels of personal success to the next level.

My challenge to you is to identify 3-5 issues that need to be changed, fixed or improved in your organization, determine how you will challenge your team to cause change and then do it!


Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

Ken was recently ranked for the fourth year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.