The Leadership Playbook: Your Third Group

A sales leader was unhappy with his sales team’s performance. He was upset because they missed their number for the third quarter in a row, and he was under a great deal of pressure from the board of directors.

He said, “I hate this sales team. They can’t negotiate, and they can’t close.” After pausing to reflect on what he just said, he continued, “I am going to fire all of them and start over.”

When he finished, I said, “I accept your premise. They aren’t great at negotiating and they can’t close business.” Then, I asked him, “What do we do with the third group?” The sales leader looked confused. “I don’t get it. What do you mean?”

I repeated myself. “What are we going to do with the third group?” Now he was miffed. He said, “I still don’t get it. What are you saying.” I continued, “When you hire the second group and they fail for these very same reasons, what are you going to do with the third group.”

He was taken aback. He said, “Are you saying that I am responsible. That this is me?” Diplomatically, I said, “Well, not just you . . .”

If this sales leader wasn’t giving this team the mindset, skill sets, tool kits, leadership, development, and coaching they needed to succeed, how would replacing them with another group that would be equally neglected produce better results?

The leader is responsible for their team’s performance. Some people are poor performers because they are lazy. Many of them may be disengaged. A few of them are burnt out. None of these reasons, or any others you might add to this list, are the root cause of their poor performance.

Most people aren’t lazy, disengaged, or obstinate. They’re just poorly led.

What will you do with your third group?

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