Transforming Supply Chain

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How to scale a sales team? Do not dump a bunch of rookies on your Sales Managers and expect greatness…

All sales organizations want to build sales teams that are capable of conquering the world.  No matter how you think of your business, and whether you’re a carrier or a broker, at the heart of your business is a sales organization making things go (pun intended). At the beginning of the month, there’s focus set on increased revenue goals, and profit margins. At the end, it feels like only one thing matters - the almighty dollar.  If you are reading this, the good news is that you have likely had some success growing your business. You either have in the past, or are ready to, start a new sales team - put in place a new leader, or put that leader in charge of a new group.

In previous posts we have talked about the role that training plays in unlocking your employees’ potential. Similarly, how you organize your sales teams, particularly how you create them,  makes a difference helping everyone succeed.

Your best salespeople are not always destined to be your best managers.  

There’s an old adage in sports that “those who can’t make it as players, coach”. Putting it another way “everyone’s a critic”. In sales, it means your best managers may not be inside the top 10% of performers. Closing deals, and leading and developing others are not the same set of skills - especially if you promote a heavy hitter sales rep into a sales manager responsible for a team with no training (check out that other post, for real).  Learn about your team, and know your teams strengths. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird are not the best NBA coaches of all time, are they?

This can be hard to swallow when you think about “promoting” someone who has worse sales numbers than someone else who is not going to be in the lead role. We talk in other posts about how to show career progression to employees, but suffice to say that you should decouple the idea of “Sales Lead” and what that means in your organization from the sole idea of “promotion”. Allowing people to ascend into roles which fit their skills, and in turn build you a more successful business, is the point building the teams.Know your business, and what your organization needs from a leader to enable success in your people.  

Do not stick a manager with a bunch of rookies (or crappy sales people)

Your current team is a mix - with a normal statistical distribution of high and low performance, with most people, by definition being average. At this point, you have decided you are starting a new sales team, you have identified the new leader, and you have trained her for success her in new role. And you have a team of people she could manage. Most companies keep existing sales teams in tact, and stick the new team with a bunch of rookies and cast offs (let’s call them developmental employees).

This is the wrong move because it sets the new team up for failure. A team is just that - a team - and the best teams manage and coach each other. Everyone plays his or her part. Consider taing one or two of the high and middle performers from an existing team, and resourcing them to the new team - splitting up the developmental employees between the two teams. The old team still has high and middle performers, but so does the new team. No sales manager is left with a team of people who need incredible high touch, and the developmental employees have a reference point close by of people to learn from by example.


It is essential to think about how your organizational structure contributes to the success of your people, and how it sets everyone up for success. After all, a rising tide lifts all ships


Co-Written by @KyleMlakar

Ryan Schreiber
Ryan Schreiber
Ryan Schreiber has lived his career at the intersection of transportation and technology. As Metafora's VP of Industry & Growth, Ryan works with clients on challenging the status quo while respecting the challenges both businesses and individuals face through change. Before joining Metafora, Ryan has started multiple businesses in the industry and brings that experience in attacking the problems transportation providers and shippers face navigating the issues in building the future of their businesses.

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