March 26

Are You Enabling or Empowering Your Sales Team?


I was working with a group of sales managers, debriefing their emotional intelligence assessments. As we covered the EQ competency of empathy, a very smart sales manager made this observation.  “Without self-awareness, my high empathy could turn me into an enabler.” His observation resulted in a great conversation around this question:

Are sales managers enabling their sales team or empowering their sales team?

Sales leaders, particularly during the pandemic, have had to walk that fine line of being a supportive sales leader AND avoiding the trap of becoming an enabler, a person that allows and accepts bad behavior.   

The “enabling” sales manager removes consequences that occur as a result of the salesperson’s non-productive selling behaviors. Instead of holding the salesperson accountable for their actions (or inactions), the sales manager makes excuses for such behavior.

“The company doesn’t have a budget for sales training. No wonder Tom is failing.”

“It’s hard to reach prospects…we used to do all our prospecting and meetings face-to-face. That’s the reason Susan isn’t hitting her numbers.” 

The “enabling” sales manager sends a message to the sales team that it’s okay to:

  • Wait for others to do their work.
  • Expect other people to take charge of their life and career.
  • Hang out with excuse makers instead of deal makers.

The empowering sales manager helps her sales team recognize that actions, or lack thereof, have consequences. Instead of making excuses and enabling bad selling behaviors, the empowering sales manager gets her team focused on what they have, rather than what they don’t have.

“We don’t have a budget for sales training. What resources do you have available to you to become smarter and better in sales?”

“We used to be face-to-face with prospects at trade shows and conferences. What new skills and activities can you employ to generate leads and a full sales pipeline?” 

The empowering sales manager creates a sales team that:

  • Takes charge of their development, seeking out mentors and advice.
  • Doesn’t wait for external circumstances to change in order for them to be successful.  
  • Hangs out with top performers rather than bench warmers.

Let me be clear. I’m all about giving salespeople training, education and support. 

I own a sales-development company! 

But I’m also about empowering salespeople to take charge of their future.  Being happy and successful in life isn’t someone else’s responsibility. 

Sales managers, are you enabling or empowering your sales team?

Apply the EQ skills of self-awareness and reality testing. Take time to reflect on what type of sales culture you are building. 

Good Selling!


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