Characteristics of great sales leaders

Sales management Training
Sales management training



In 25 years of working with sales organizations of all types and sizes, I have discovered the SEVEN things the  best sales leaders consistently do better than their counterparts:


~Great Sales Leaders are rigorous in their Hiring decisions: Realizing the incredible cost of a poor hire and, conversely,the incredible gain of top performers, they act as if hiring right is the most important thing they do… and they are right.  Their counterparts are reactive, wait until they are desperate, rushing thru the selection process and selecting people who lack the essential characteristics successful people share.   They then suffer through under-performance over the ensuing  years.

~Effective sales leaders have set very clear performance metrics and goals.  Great sales leaders insure each sales person knows precisely what they must do to succeed each and every day.  Unlike their counterparts who feel a sales person should know how to sell and therefore they offer vague objectives quotas and metrics, effective leaders focus on those activities that pre-determine the sale, knowing that activity always determines the end sale.

~Exceptional sales managers embrace Customer Relationship Management (CRM) I am referring not only to the tool, but moreover the concept itself.  They appreciate their customers and nurture them throughout their life cycle, which is generally considerably longer than their counterparts.  They have implemented an efficient CRM program and their sales team appreciates the essential value of CRM and they use it religiously.

~Sales leaders must be authentic, fierce coaches.  Unlike their counterparts, great leaders do not look at coaching as an adjunct part of their job. Rather they view coaching as THE JOB. They help their people debrief their calls, manage to their metrics and get un-stuck in developing accounts and territories. They provide timely and constructive feedback.  A great coach is always seeking to create growth through accountability.

~World class sales teams clearly define the company’s sales process.  Each step of the sales process (usually between 6 and 9 steps) is clearly defined. There is a common nomenclature for each step along with a close probability dependent upon the sales stage. Each sales member owns the sales process COLD, providing a clear path through the sales process. Consequently forecasting and sales results are predictable.

~The Sales enterprise has a clear focus and strategy tied to marketing.  They manage to a written strategic plan, AND guide each of their reps to manage to a clearly articulated territory plan. They know what a best fit client looks like and do not waste time on lesser opportunities.

~ The sales team understands the numbers.  Each sales person  knows the numbers that drive their business and hold themselves and their people to those numbers.  Although their personal numbers vary based on their skills, each of their reps knows precisely what they personally must accomplish each day to win.  Reps operate in a clear and purposeful way, maximizing time and results.

Sales management Training

Sales management training


How effective is your team?   Find out here


Selecting Top Performers

Consistently Hiring Top performers is the single greatest factor separating great companies from the rest!

Human Capital is your greatest corporate asset. Great managers recognize and respect this fact. Unfortunately many companies spend more time selecting the right copier than hiring the right employee. Most organizations have no process and virtually no training for managers in what is arguably the most important thing they do.

As a rule, managers do not focus on recruitment, candidate selection and interviewing. In reality the hiring “process” is often looked at as a distraction. Managers focus on  urgent fire drills that inevitably pop up. In most instances these urgent fire drills relate directly to the quality of the individual whom they  hired in the first place! The only way to really break out of this vicious circle is to invest the time in hiring great candidates from the outset. Exceptional managers have learned to avoid six key

“Hiring Horrors:”

  • Hiring from a position of desperation
  • Ill-defined selection criteria
  • Superficial questioning techniques
  • Too much reliance on the interview
  • Bypassing the reference check
  • Failure to validate using objective testing

Great leaders realize that there is no time in their business career when they have more to gain (or lose) than when they are selecting talent. Only when your hiring managers adopt this “Top-Grading” paradigm  can you begin to reduce your turnover rates.

Over 40% of newly hired candidates leave within the 1st year of employment. While this is bad enough, what about those employees who stick around, consistently performing at  80% or less of their capacity?  Frankly this impact is even more costly than those who leave. To demonstrate the cost of disengagement or under performance, consider your company’s revenue per Full Time Employee and calculate a modest 5 or 10 percent improvement in performance.  Hopefully, this number causes you to redouble your commit to a rigorous, repeatable and extensive hiring process.

So, what  is the number one reason hiring fails?

We fail to identify critical characteristics of top performers so, we are unable to pre-determine whether the candidate fits the  key attributes which the job requires.

Assuming this makes sense, The question then becomes: “How do I know what the job truly needs?”  Most businesses are quick to answer this question with, “we have a job description… somewhere,” or “Let’s take our top performers and try to clone them,” or “I know what it takes, I’ll just tell you…” This approach limits objectivity and promotes bias, leading to fatal flaws resulting in  under performance, marginal engagement and years of lost opportunity.

If we do not know, in advance, the crucial elements of a job’s success, how do you expect to find them in a twenty-minute interview? The simple answer is… you can’t.  There is no shortcut

Create standard, scale-able processes
Use effective interviewing questions
Establish rigorous criteria and standards to minimize “false positives
Profile a “good fit” to the job in advance
Utilize a valid, reliable and OBJECTIVE  testing instrument

Take the first step  in selecting exceptional talent

Serial Entrepreneurs… Emyth busters

Serial entrepreneur, entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs leading Small to Medium businesses  have long been the engines of job creation in Corporate America

Entrepreneurs are crucial drivers in the economy.  Serial Entrepreneurs, those who have started 2 or more successful businesses, contribute three to five times the impact of single company entrepreneurs. Having been associated with UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) since 2004, we have examined common leadership skills serial entrepreneurs share.

Since serial entrepreneurs are clearly doing something right, it behooves us to understand them. Are you in possession of those traits needed to succeed as a serial entrepreneur?

  1. Serial Entrepreneurs have already experienced success and usually failure.
  1. These leaders tend to learn from both, developing the professional skills vital for success
  1. Serial Entrepreneurs have personal funds from previous ventures or have the ability to raise funds based on past successes.
  1. The track record of Serial Entrepreneurs make them more likely to create gazelle companies. Gazelle companies grow bigger, faster and thus employ more people than a typical start up.
  1. They have conquered the Emyth, They demonstrate the ability to sustain a business past the first year, into the high growth job production years of a young firm

This article focuses on serial entrepreneurs, who are defined as those who have created more than one successful business which employs others.

What exactly characterizes a serial entrepreneur? Data was collected in three specific areas relevant to performance: attitudes, behavior, and professional soft skills. Attitudes tell us why entrepreneurs are motivated to do what they do, behavior is how they are doing it, and professional skills reveal what they excel as leaders.  Our group of serial entrepreneurs earned impressive track records, having on average built five different businesses and sold two of them. Most have experienced failure at some point (66%) but persevered to achieve solid successes that have them in the 36% tax bracket (80%).



Dashboards, Metrics and Scorecards

Ever glance in the cockpit of a 747 as you boarded the plane for a trip?  If you are like me, you probably were astonished at the number of dials, lights and instruments.  Turning down the aisle, you shake your head with the seeming complexity of it all.

The science behind flight is complex. In truth, however, pilots use six primary dials to make sure their plane stays on course and remains airborne.  They use the six dials as a dashboard to provide insight into critical forensic information. Providing one of  their key dials suggests a problem, the pilot then gains greater insights by digging deeper into an associated dial. This dashboard is essential in focusing on the most important performance indicators.

Running a business is in many ways equal to or more challenging than keeping a plane airborne.   The speed and quantity of information presented to workers daily in today’s technology-rich world is mind numbing.  This presents real challenges as organizations, and its workers attempt to maintain focus on the highest gain activity. Business owners need to measure and monitor several key “business dials” that highlight the health of their business.  These dials are key performance metrics, which, when combined create your business dashboard.  This business dashboard generally consists of 5 or 6 dials which provides real time insight into the health of your business.

If you expect a result you better inspect that which drives the result; A key performance indicator or KPI  identifies the smallest discernible and measurable action that leads to a successful outcome and is the most effective predictor of future results. A KPI could range from # phone calls a salesperson makes weekly, the absolute size and trends of a sales funnel, the frequency with which a manager coaches their people or a net promoter score from customers.  Defining and holding people accountable to very clear KPI’s insures all levels of the organization are operating at full capacity and efficiency.  In reality most managers do not help people to focus on the highest gain activity.  The result: an inability to predict results, wasted time and an enormous opportunity cost. A long time ago, I heard FOCUS defined as the ability to say “no” to good opportunities.  Why? because there are BETTER opportunities

What business Dials are on your dashboard?  What about the associated dashboards of those departments within your organization?

So, you think you have an effective sales organization?

Guess what… So does every other Sales executive

experience suggests that most sales organizations are not as strong as they believe  they are.

Sales force effectiveness starts and ends with effective sales leadership :

  • Commit to only hire the best
  • Focus on activity metrics not results
  • Coach their people
  • Embrace CRM
  • Have a well articulated sales process
  • Focus on a strategic sales plan
  • Insure each rep OWNs their own written territory development plan

Seeking an objective perspective?  Take our Sales effectiveness survey

Perspective yields Focus

Sales management Training
Sales management training

I always take it down a notch between Christmas and New Years, generally taking that week to reflect.  I begin by dusting off my personal mission statement of 20 plus years, by refining and tweaking annually.  This has served me well to keep sight of what is really important.  It helps to link my values to my goals and by extension, helps me navigate day to day. I reflect on my previous year’s business accomplishments, reviewing my successes, my challenges and review my past year’s business in great detail.  I ask myself tough questions such as;

From where did my business come?  Where did I choose to spend my time?  What relationships were the most valuable?  How did I do against my previous years goals?  What personal development must I focus on in the coming year to improve my performance? What must I start doing and importantly, what must I STOP doing.  It allows me to step back from the day to day and reconnect. The funny thing about habits is that they generally sneak up on you, and you adopt behaviors unknowingly.

Once I know my compass is again pointing in the right direction, I begin to chart my course for the next  twelve months of this journey. I turn to a very robust personal planning tool which I have developed and refined over the past 30 years. It takes me several days of reflection and strategic, “outside the box thinking” to come up with a very clear vision and plan on what I must accomplish, quarter over quarter throughout the coming year.  This rigorous perspective yields a focus and commitment to the coming year.  This focus is the catalyst in providing the energy and motivation to face the inevitable adversity which the coming year will bring. All of a sudden, obstacles convert to opportunities, problems become challenges, and setbacks are a source of inspiration.

Best wishes for a prosperous and happy 2016


The secret sauce of successful sales people:

Why is it that some people excel in sales where others do not? Have you ever hired a “sure ringer” only to find 6 months, and $20,000 later that you misread that person’s ability to succeed? I have spent my career in the sales profession, much of it searching for that “silver bullet”, that trait which will predetermine sales success. The answer is not readily apparent, as there is no single overriding attribute that can predict success in sales. Effective Salesmanship is a complex connection between your knowledge, your attitude, your skills and habits (K.A.S.H.). The reason most sales people fail is not a skill issue, nor is it knowledge deficit. The primary underlying issue that causes sales people to fail is their inability to confront the limits of their own comfort zone, and manage their own K.A.S.H. account. learn the secret sauce



TTI wins prestigious Award

Release Date
Fri, April 03, 2015 08:00AM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – TTI Success Insights (TTI SI) was awarded first place in the small business category during the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards Program, which salutes the world’s top companies for outstanding achievement in leadership development practices.

TTI SI’s top honor celebrated how the company has positively impacted businesses and employees’ lives through its suite of assessment, along with enabling its worldwide network of 7,000 Value Added Associates to meet and exceed their clients’ expectations.Lead500 Award Pic

“Our company has developed and shaped rising leaders for over 30 years, and we feel honored to be a spoke on the wheel in helping small businesses grow and better serve their clients,” said Bill J. Bonnstetter, chairman and founder of TTI SI. “As the workplace shifts with new generations entering the job market, leaders will thrive when they better understand how the fives sciences that make up the Science of Self™ impact their productivity and profits.”

Leadership 500 Excellence Award winners were announced March 31 at LEAD500, a three-day conference in Dallas keynoted by former President Bill Clinton. This year’s awards recipients were judged by an expert panel and selected based on both an application and nomination process, as well as feedback from each nominated company’s stakeholders.

The top 500 leadership organizations receive recognition in’s annual ranking and the winners in each category are featured in this month’s Leadership Excellence magazine. A full list of winners is also available.

“I think the Leadership 500 Awards, in combination with LEAD 2015, demonstrates top organizations that not only value leadership, but also have innovative programs,” said Debbie McGrath, CEO of “This year’s list of winners reflect the importance of reinventing leadership development and the need to bring leadership to a wider audience.”

Established in 1984 by Bill J. Bonnstetter and his son, Dave Bonnstetter, TTI SI has helped businesses increase employee engagement, increase leaders’ self-awareness, improve team efficiencies, and provide clarity in purpose and communication.

About TTI Success Insights
TTI Success Insights believes all people are unique and have talents and skills of which they are often unaware. We exist to reveal and harness these talents, using the Science of Self™. For over 30 years, we have researched and applied social and brain science, creating assessment solutions consultants in 90 countries and 40 languages used to hire, develop and retain the best talent in the world. With a tenacious, innovative culture, we transform potential to productivity, performance and profits. Every 7 seconds, someone is taking a TTI SI assessment to increase their self-awareness and grow their career. For more information, visit and @TTI_SI.

Contact Information
Emily Soccorsy


If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, is it really a duck?

Emotional intelligence in the workplace:

There are three significant trends pertaining to the United States workforce which merit consideration:

  • There is a growing shortage of qualified workers.
  • The workforce is increasingly mobile and less loyal.
  • Human Capital is fast becoming the most valuable asset for top performing companies.

A significant concern for organizations is identifying, finding, attracting and retaining the very best talent.  Thriving in today’s business environment goes way beyond skills talent and intelligence. Companies can offer salaries, benefits, and perks, but if their employees don’t feel valued or recognized for their efforts, the financial investments may be undermined by those who will continue to seek opportunities to be valued above and beyond the compensation system.

Building and sustaining an emotionally intelligent workforce will be THE decisive differentiator for successful organizations in the new millennium. Emotional intelligence is one’s ability to understand and integrate their environment and adapt to adversity.  Studies have shown that people with high EI have greater mental health, exemplary job performance, and more potent leadership skills.

We are constantly faced with adversity in our workday, thus our ability to adapt, learn, share and motivate is a constant we bring to each and every work opportunity.   Emotional intelligence is a gauge of one’s ability to deal with change and adversity. By understanding a candidate’s emotional quotient, we can predict with a great deal of accuracy how they will respond to the particular rigors of a job.   There are Five components we measure in Emotional intelligence:

Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social skill

Make sure you understand someone’s emotional quotient the next time you promote someone into a substantial role, or select a senior executive to facilitate change or growth.

The greater responsibility an employee has, the more expensive personnel mistakes become.  Do your homework and take nothing to chance, assess emotional intelligence before you make major personnel decisions.  The company follows the direction a leader chooses…

Contact us to learn more about assessing emotional intelligence




focus determines the level of engagment of your people

Great leaders understand this and are able to rise above the daily distractions and focus on 5 focus areas; Coaching their people, Hiring Right, Assessing Talent,Managing their people to focus on high gain activities, and Planning well. . 80% or more of their time is spent on these 5 critical disciplines (C.H.A.M.P.):

Less effective leaders however, find themselves getting involved in the minutia. They spend less than 15% on these 5 core areas. They may work hard but accomplish seemingly little. They go home at night and realize they never got to their #1 item for the day. They are constantly pulled into the tactical, limiting their true effectiveness. Why? They view “coaching” as an adjunct part of their job, not recognizing that coaching IS the job. They are ill-prepared for interviewing job applicants and, unlike an RFQ, have not determined the criteria they demand, so they settle without realizing it. They select a candidate, and go through the perfunctory onboarding, with little review, feedback or mentoring. They then start all over again when the person fails, or worse yet, they keep hoping, wishing and yes even praying that the person will “turn it around” soon, even though it was clear by the third week that the candidate would fail. The executive rose through the ranks or built their company by “getting ‘er done…” The company outgrows you but you work longer and harder with the ill-fated notion that you can singlehandedly manage the same company that is 5X the original size. Finally most entrepreneurs are built for action. Their strong motivation to achieve sometimes leads to action, often times absent sufficient pre-thought. The result; false starts, changing direction, micromanagement and confusion and frustration. Unless you are giving your people a way to fuse their minds and develop the potential they hold, they are not truly empowered. The Corporate Mind establishes alignment and organizational effectiveness:

  • Single mindedness of purpose.
  • An ability to filter out distraction.
  • A motivated and mobilized team that acts in support of the vision at all times.

Become the leader that you’d want to follow. If you aren’t practicing and exercising the CorporateMind then neither will they! Give your team a realistic and effective way to participate and drive your collective success. Place everyone on the same page. That’s how you’ll improve sales, increase customer satisfaction and gain market share. All you need to do is “share your minds”. That’s what it means to operate as a CorporateMind. Ask yourself, “Are you leading or Managing?”