Selfishness Doesn’t Sell: Be Generous with Your Team

So far in this series on generosity, I’ve talked about how selling is about giving and being in service to others.

I’ve shown you how there are three paths to success as a generous seller, beginning with what you can do on a personal level.

Let’s turn now to the second path: making a difference with a team. In particular, how you as a sales leader can be generous with your team and influence their results.

The way you treat people on your team has a direct impact on how they feel about their own work, how they treat others, and whether they stay or go. Yet this is often overlooked by sales managers—even in cases where there’s a high turnover rate on their sales team.

Despite what many leaders think, people don’t leave companies: they leave managers. Top sellers want to work for people they feel are personally vested in them and whose hard work has a direct bearing on the sales success of the people they manage. Just as important, your team of sellers absorbs the internal culture you create and emulates it outside to clients. You get what you give.

That’s why I say selfishness doesn’t sell, especially when it comes to working with a team.You need them to be generous sellers, so first you must be a generous leader.

When most of us look in the mirror, we instantly view ourselves as being generous. But a careful self-examination of your thoughts and behaviours often reveals there’s a lot of room left for improvement. Time for a reality check!

Want to know if you are truly a generous sales manager? Run the following self-assessment and see how well you score.

Do you cancel meetings repeatedly?
This is one of the most common self-centered habits I see in sales leaders. Scheduled meetings are a commitment. When you habitually break that commitment to your team, you are sending a clear signal that you prioritize yourself over your sellers. Or that you prioritize the needs of others ahead of your team. Even if you feel you have a good reason each time for cancelling meetings, you are building an impression that is damaging and demoralizing. Your word is your bond with your sales team. Be unfailing in keeping your scheduled commitments to them.  

Do you sell against your own team?
This is one of the most damaging “me-focused” behaviors I see among sales leaders who are in charge of managing a group of salespeople. For instance: when leaders see that a seller is about to land a large deal, the leader wedges themselves into the deal to get a cut of the glory or even a piece of the commission. Just like in sports, coaches don’t do their job well by running out onto the field. They serve their team best from the sidelines. To do otherwise is selfish and the team won’t forget it. Be a manager or be a seller. You don’t get to be both.

Do you work as though it’s your mission to save the day?
This is another common behaviour I see with sales leaders, especially those who previously were sellers themselves. They assume that what made them great in sales is what will make them great in managing others. They decide it’s their mission to make the team emulate their past selling methods. This thinking is amplified when a challenging buyer arises. There, the sales leader thinks that it’s their job to rescue the team and save the sale. Your team doesn’t need a rescuer. They need a coach.  That means you need to dedicate your time exclusively to improving your teams’ skills and advocating for them internally when they need help.

Do you undervalue the amount of time spent on coaching?
“But I shouldn’t have to coach people.” That’s defective thinking. It’s built on the false assumption that every minute a seller isn’t engaged in landing a deal or prospecting is little more than wasted time. Every pro needs coaching. Every single one of them. As a sales leader and manager, you need to devote three hours per week per rep to coaching them. To do less (or to do nothing) is to fall short what’s been proven in field test after field test as the minimum of what’s requires to accelerate performance. Your work doesn’t end there, either. You also need to add  time with sales meetings and ride-along coaching.

How well did you do on this self-exam?

Being generous as a leader towards your team is a choice. It requires ongoing work to ensure every member of your team feels seen, appreciated and equipped with the skills they need to perform the way you need them to.  Let go of selfish behavior and self-centered beliefs. Instead, hire sellers that are better than you ever were in the field, and train each of them as a team to be the best they can be.