Powerful sales legacies: Build them or lose them

By Cheryl Kane. Highly successful sales professionals often work very well autonomously, which means they see themselves as star players working independently.

They view themselves as part of a product or service team but not as a connected team working collaboratively. 

Oftentimes sales compensation is set up to create competition between sales professionals, underscoring the idea they are not connected and should work separately.

Vanishing act

This strategy can work well in many ways. However, it may not be ideal for building long-term competitive advantages for the organization. As sales professionals advance in the company to administrative roles, retire, or shift to another company, their talents just vanish if you fail to tap into those talents while they are with you.

And the most sincere, meaningful legacy-transfer conversations happen more naturally and more frequently if quality relationships are developed over time. It’s important to establish a culture that facilitates ways the sales team sees themselves as a functioning team where they share responsibility for group success as well as individual success.

In addition to compensation programs that directly rewards group outcomes, there are additional ways customs and practices can create camaraderie and interpersonal networking where the talents, skills, and insights of experienced sales professionals can be shared, used by others, and live on in the organization.

Let’s fix the problem

1. Initiate new sales staff mentoring programs; rewarding both mentee and mentor for the new sales professional’s success can encourage strong, long-term collaboration in both directions.

2. Set up specific reasons for sales professionals to spend time together as a group on non-sales activities but incorporate situations where specific skills are recognized; this encourages discussion and sharing.

3. Establish sections of standing sales meetings where rotating topics relevant to sales skills are highlighted; letting each person explain how they approach certain situations sets the stage for comparing best practices.

4. Keep a list of questions to generate short discussions over lunches or in brief conversations. Asking about successful management of most difficult customers, toughest service issues, new technology uses, or most inventive ways to present a project or service can offer high-level discussions which may trigger more advanced discussions later on.

5. Promote a common read of an inspiring or motivational book sets the tone for insightful conversations that can also be tied to lessons in sales practices.

6. Encourage the sales professionals to recommend topics they would enjoy learning about from others on the team; let selected sales professionals develop a training session for their peers.

7. Set up a periodic panel discussion and let the group decide which of their peers they most want to hear from-in an interview fashion, and about what topics.

Ranking or rewarding sales professionals only on sales outcomes can be highly motivating.

But creating a set of processes where the sharing of outstanding talents and innovative ideas strengthens the entire organization-now, and for the future.

It can create a more tightly formed team working together, making each sales professional stronger.  It helps the best legacies live on and on.


Cheryl Kane, is a strategic business consultant, sales trainer, & professional speaker specializing in strategic planning and service quality. Cheryl welcomes your communication at email: [email protected].



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