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Do you deserve the title ‘sales leader’? Part 1

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In my more than three decades in sales, I’ve seen lots of sales managers. The vast majority fall into one of four categories:

1.     The Hall Monitor. The Hall Monitor sees his job as one of chronicling activity, taking names, dispensing discipline, focusing on procedures—thinking that these are the keys to generating results (or at least to keeping his job).

Hall monitors tend to be process-oriented, are organized and have a strong sense of discipline. All admirable characteristics, but they’re misguided. The Hall Monitor makes a great bureaucrat and a lousy manager. He’ll make sure that everyone knows his place and procedures are followed—at the cost of morale and sales.

Although The Hall Monitor is focused on enforcing procedure on subordinates, she feels justified in fudging her reports (lying) to upper management. She has no intention of letting her subordinates hold her down or put her job in jeopardy. If numbers aren’t being met or sales calls aren’t being made, she’s fully capable of showing management why it isn’t her fault.

2.     The Visitor. The Visitor is going places—fast. Her current assignment of managing the sales team is temporary—the more temporary, the better, in her mind. Her key to moving up is getting the numbers that will catch the eye of management. 

The Visitor cares about no one other than himself, which translates into demanding sales at all costs. Price is never an obstacle; sell no matter what! His message to his team members is get out there and don’t come back until you’ve got orders.

Need help? Need advice? Need coaching? Don’t ask The Visitor because frankly, he doesn’t give a damn. If it isn’t going to help him get his next promotion, he’s not interested. Have a suggestion or advice to give? Don’t bother. The Visitor doesn’t plan on being around long enough to implement it anyway.

The one thing you can count on from The Visitor is a sales goal he can easily meet. Oh, yeah, and management will see those numbers, guaranteed.

3.     The Good Buddy. The Good Buddy is everyone’s best friend. Managing is a popularity contest, and he intends to win it. He’s a great drinking buddy, a top-notch shoulder to cry on and someone you can trust to cover for you. He makes sure the office atmosphere is loose and fun and that everyone feels welcome.

Discipline? Well, that’s not something you’ll see from him. An insistence on hitting quota? Another non-priority. Coaching? Nope. Lots of back slapping and high fiving, but no real coaching. Decisions? Don’t expect The Good Buddy to make the hard decisions, because he might hurt someone’s feelings. Because The Good Buddy is weak and lets his team members run the office, almost everyone ends up unhappy.

In Part 2, we’ll discuss the fourth type of sales manager—as well as the only one worthy of being called a “sales leader.”

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Paul McCord is a best-selling author, speaker and leading authority on lead generation. He has more than 20 years’ experience coaching and mentoring salespeople. For more information, go to