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The TACTIC: Treat salespeople like customers.


Four weeks ago, Art would have known exactly what to say. Man, he thought to himself, looking down from his office window at Diane, his first new hire, walking towards the building. When I accepted the promotion to sales manager, it never occurred to me that I’d finally have some sympathy for my predecessor. “George,” he said out loud, looking back at the empty chair behind the desk, “I see you finally found a way to get even with me for all the crap I put you through . . . when you offered me the position, I should have told you to go to . . .”

Just at that moment the phone started buzzing intermittently. That’s another thing, thought Art, I’ve got to find someone who can change George’s buzzer back to a ring. There are three thousand things I need to do. Man, what I’d give to be back in sales. It was so much simpler.

He picked up the phone and found that one of his best customers was on the line. Janice was a sales manager herself and had been one of Art’s best accounts for the past two years.

“A belated congratulations,” said Janice. “I would have called sooner, but I was off on vacation.”

“Thanks,” responded Art, who paused for a second and then saw himself slide right back into his salesperson personality, “Is this a good time for us to speak?”

Janice laughed. “You never give up, do you?”

“Well,” laughed Art in return, “I guess it will take awhile for me to figure out what I’m doing now.”

“You want some advice, one manager to another?”


“Do what you did as a salesperson; only now your customers are your salespeople. Do that and you’ll be fine.”

“That sounds interesting . . . can you give me an example?” responded Art.

Janice laughed again. “You just did it. You took my statement and turned it into a question.”

He smiled to himself. “Well, I’m a little confused about what you just shared with me; could you say it again in another way?”

“That’s good,” responded Janice, “I’ll have to try that one out myself.”



Art thought he was new at sales management. Turns out he was further along than he thought.



It’s unlikely that a new sales manager would come from any position other than the ranks of salespeople. The selection thought process is the same, “We need someone in that position who understands sales, understands salespeople and can get them out there closing more. Whom do we have in sales that can do it?”

The search usually turns to the best salesperson on staff. Of course, there is a dilemma. If we promote him to sales manager, we lose the sales that he would have made. Can the rest be motivated fast enough to make up?

Here’s the question that should be asked. Can the best salesperson take his sales skills, teach those skills and motivate the other salespeople to do likewise? Or, to put it another way, does the sales manager have the ability to treat salespeople like customers?

Hopefully, the idea of the sales manager treating the salespeople as customers is a pleasant one. It should be one where the salespeople are seen as “buying” and then being turned into “repeat buyers.”



We all have role models. Some salespeople have had the experience of being adopted by an older and more experienced salesperson. The mentor should have a knack for passing along “selling wisdom” by providing a model of how to do the job. Do as I do, do it with your whole being and you, too, will have success like mine. Sounds corny but it works. And works well.

A sales manager can provide the same mentoring role by using his sales skills to “sell” the salesperson on improving her behavior. You cannot control how many prospects will give her orders. You cannot control her behavior once she leaves your immediate presence. The only thing you can control is your behavior when you interact with her.

Just as a salesperson ought to create a buying environment for a prospect, the same should occur with a sales manager and a salesperson. How you assist a salesperson in changing her behavior is by allowing her to see, hear, or feel what her behavior is like. If the goal is to “sell” her a behavioral change, what steps do you have to take to “close” her? It’s just like selling.



The way you treat salespeople is exactly the way they will treat their prospects and customers. If you want to have your salespeople treat their prospects and customers differently, then what do you have to do?


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Posted October 31, 2018

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