How Action-Packed Leadership Development Can Stop UN-Productivity (4 of 5)

How Action-Packed Leadership Development Can Stop UN-Productivity (4 of 5)

During a leadership development session with Fred, he confessed, “We need sales growth. The current team isn’t delivering. We need action! However, at the same time, we’re concerned about the high levels of stress we see. How do we get the salespeople to get traction, to start stretching their sales muscles without stressing out completely?”

He went on to lament, “Danita, the sales management team and I are feeling helpless…and hopeless! We want to help our salespeople, but we don’t know how!”

It would indeed appear that we’re fighting more than one pandemic – Covid-19 and the fear pandemic!

What type of stress is stopping your salespeople from reaching their goals? 

A Strategic Leadership Development Plan to Stop the Sales UN-culture

Leaders are frustrated. They feel that their teams are stuck in the Sales UN-culture! Their sales systems, processes, and staffing don’t support a pathway to sales success.

I often hear, “Working remotely appears to be UN-productive! I hear the dog barking and the laundry buzzer going off when I check in with my salespeople. They seem too stressed out to focus and be productive in reaching their sales goals.”


In a recent survey, 71% of college students said they were stressed out at least once a week. They report being stressed out enough that it impacted their work, so much so that they weren’t stretching to become more capable.

How might the fear pandemic cause stress and anxiety to impact your sales managers, sales teams, and salespeople?

Of course, UN-productivity, (and inactivity) a reaction to stress, looks different for every salesperson.

    • Some stay glued to LinkedIn and Social Media all day long, never picking up the phone to call anyone.
    • Others get hung up on product knowledge, never feeling like they have enough to start selling.
    • Still, others are stuck in talk mode. Oh, they have big plans for “conquering the world.” But, they never put action behind their plan.

What might you do to get your salespeople stretching their sales muscles so that they will overcome their fears and be more courageous in moving forward?

An Action Mindset Produces the Momentum Needed to Exceed Sales Growth Goals

In this series, we’re discussing 5 Bold Leadership Development and a power-packed question we want our sales managers and salespeople to ask themselves in times of crises and chaos – “What might I do to make a positive impact?”  This question ensures they are:

    • radically relevant to their clients,
    • compellingly competitive in their industry, and
    • wildly successful in exceeding their goals.

Let’s look at the fourth word in our powerful question.


Another tiny word… that packs a mighty punch!

I love this tidbit of wisdom from Dale Carnegie: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Watch this video: Video 1 – What Story will You be Known for

Leadership Development Lessons Learned 

As leaders of our teams, we get to make a bold decision to be a Change Agent.

I hear from some that “Change Agent” has gotten a bad rap recently, and that we need to switch to becoming “Enhancement Encouragers.”

Whatever name you prefer, this leadership role is paramount to our goal of moving forward with our plans. We want to get our salespeople to stretch their sales acumen and feeling positive stress– not increase feelings of negative stress, fear, and anxiety.

Here are some of the character traits that I see in leaders who are committed to driving leadership development with healthy change, improvement, and growth in their businesses:

    • They are a role model first, and an instructor second. They are a leader worth following.
    • They create a success culture, without micro-managing everything and everyone.
    • They correct in private and shine a bright light on success.
    • They are optimistic and inspire hope, not fear.

This is the leader who does not shy away from the “do” in our question. This leader asks:

“What might I do to make a positive impact?”

So, what might you do to create the change your salespeople need to embrace an Action Mindset?

Identify Behaviors that Obstructs your Sales Growth

I suggested to Fred to be intentional in identifying unproductive behavior in his team. This is what happens when fear takes over and the Action Mindset, a Do-Attitude, is taking a back seat in your sales organization…

    • Giving up too easily when they can’t break into new accounts
    • Not digging deep into current accounts for expanded business
    • Inability to accurately forecast closing
    • Caving into competitors’ low pricing strategies
    • Lax efforts to embrace virtual tools for selling

Fred realized that most of these behaviors are present in his team. It was having an extremely negative impact on their sales growth results. But he was also aware of the fact that his team was experiencing high levels of fear, anxiety and stress.

From our earlier conversations, it was clear to see that Fred and his team possessed the character traits of Change Agents. I knew he was ready to make a bold leadershio decision and use the Action Steps that we have developed together. These steps will get his salespeople stretching so that they can move from the planning phase to the action phase.

What are some actions you might take to get rid of the UN-productive behaviors in your team?

1. Stretching Comfort-Zones is a Leadership Development Strategy 

When coaching a young leader, I regularly talk to him or her about sweating. No, I’m not talking with them about switching deodorants. We’re discussing their sales behavior, and where they were exercising their sales muscles.

I worked with Fred and his sales managers to start including questions like these in their leadership development coaching conversations:

    • What did you do today to sweat, to stretch beyond your comfort zone?
    • What did you do today that scared you so much, you could feel the fear in the pit of your stomach, your cheeks got hot, and your voice sounded shaky and strange?
    • What new skill did you learn today that you didn’t think you were capable of learning?
    • Where did you take risks and do something uncomfortable or “different”? (Developing risk-takers that will push the envelope is key to a high-performance team.)
    • What was the most creative thing you did to get business? (Again, recognizing innovative thinking is a must during these uncertain times.)

What’s behind these questions?  We want everybody on our teams to know that it’s okay to stretch, to sweat, to practice, and to grow. The competition is getting stronger and better every day.  Just to hold our ground, we need to do the same.  And, the only way we take market share, is by being better at the game.

It was important for Fred’s team to hear that it’s going to be uncomfortable. They are going to fail, and they may feel incompetent. And all of that’s OK. Fred reports that this strategy is highly effective in reducing the anxiety levels of his team so that they can focus on the important actions. The team was turning their paralyzing fears into productive forward momentum. This is what I call stretching without stressing!

What might you do to encourage your teams to build the courage to tackle the areas that will make them sweat?

2. How to Increase Sales with Strategic Review Meetings

Fred decided that Sales Review meetings provided an ideal venue to be an “Enhancement Encourager.”

Reviewing their Sales Business Plan was a powerful tool for stretching and strengthening their To-Do Action Plan.

The Sales Business Plan included every sales person’s Top 3 Goals for the year. Fred also had them detail their MBO’s (Management by Objective); KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators); OKR (Objective Key Results), Quarterly Rocks, or whatever you call them in your culture.

For each goal, Fred asked them to submit a written outline, that included:

      • Key strategy, or strategies;
      • Tactics they will consistently implement to achieve their sales strategies;
      • Anticipated Obstacles; and,
      • Contingency Plans for dealing with the obstacles

3. Use a S.M.A.R.T. Goal Alignment Process to Improve Sales Growth Results

As part of Fred’s leadership development strategy, he also worked with each salesperson to create a personal SWOT analysis. Together they worked through the

      • Strengths, Weaknesses,
      • Opportunities, and
      • Threats.

They used that knowledge to move forward with a unique goal alignment plan for every salesperson.  The plan included offensive and defensive strategies to achieve professionally, as well as personally. Having a tailor-made leadership development plan, focuses the salesperson, reducing their stress levels. The result?  A productive action sales behavior.

Energize Your Dreams is a valuable resource for this process. It is packed with goalsetting and goal-alignment ideas. If you’d like to see it, drop me an email at and I’ll send you a complimentary copy.

During the Sales Review Meetings, Fred leveraged actions that were S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timed. Here are some examples of S.M.A.R.T.:

    • Conduct in-depth conversations with top-level decision-makers in my top 10 accounts over the next 30 days
    • Gain commitment in the next 14 days from at least 15 accounts to (next step in your selling process).
    • Attend one Webinar each week to upgrade my virtual communication skills.

Watch this video: Video 2 – Leaders that Cast Vision for the Future Tap the Talents of Others

Change Agents Chart a Productive Sales Growth Path  

Fred isn’t the only leader who’s frustrated with UN-productive salespeople. I talk to business owners every day who are wondering how they might get their salespeople checked in 24/7 and moving forward.

By stretching the salespeople’s comfort zones, Fred and his team chose the bold leadership decision that turned the feelings of fear, helplessness, and hopelessness around. They’re addressing their sales growth concerns and equipping the salespeople to deal with high-stress situations.

During our last conversation, Fred said, “Danita, I thought we would be stuck in the Sales UN-Culture forever! Now that my salespeople are dealing with their anxiety in a healthy way, they’re getting clarity on exactly what their “DO” looks like moving forward!”

Use your skills as a Change Agent and follow Fred’s example to fight the fear pandemic. Challenge each salesperson to stretch their sales muscle and embrace an Action Mindset as you chart a productive path forward!

Your leadership matters greatly during this season.

To read all the articles in this series, 5 Bold Leadership Decisions to Get You on a Sales Growth Track, click on each word:







Stay tuned for the next post in this series to discover how the final part of our powerful sentence ignites an Impact Mindset that contributes to the lives of others.

Sales Growth Lesson: Challenge your salespeople to stretch their sales muscle. It develops an Action Mindset in your salespeople that will get them unstuck and moving forward.

Sales Growth Question: What might you do to create the change you need for your sales teams to become more action-oriented?

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