Branding Blog

Sales development and team management is like teaching a toddler to walk

Written by Dale Berkebile | Fri, Aug 26, 2016

Hello readers! Today I thought I would talk about something a little personal and share some thoughts on how it ties to sales development, managing people and/or running a business.



Today I was cleaning off some space on my laptop and I found a video of my son on one of his first times walking in the grass. In this video he was just one and new to the whole world of walking and being outside for that matter.

As you watch the video, know that my goal was helping him to learn that walking outside is very similar to walking inside. At this point he was walking inside for a while and starting to find his balance and was often very fearless. As you will notice in the video, this is not the case when he was outside.

Inside the house he was often curious about all the things around him - tables, chairs, the TV, speakers for the stereo, all his toys, the trash can and the list goes on an on. Outside though, he was very interested in the ground and the leaves. Part of exploring new things is great, however not so good if dad is trying to teach you to walk. Ha! Obviously, he didn't want to WALK, he wanted to play and explore. As he walks, he kept looking down. Sadly, by doing so he would then fall. He lost focus. To walk I wanted him to keep his head up and look towards the horizon in order to keep his balance. He wanted to know what these new items (leaves) were and in his head probably said… "screw the horizon dad, check out these great leaves".

This offers some great coaching points for sales. The first one for sales managers is the importance of understanding their salespeople. If your goals and agendas are not aligned you both could fail. My son wanted to play and had no interest in walking, so I got frustrated. What would have been better and what you didn't see after the video ended was what happened next. Mom and dad played with him on the ground and let him play with leaves and explore the ground. This made him very happy. We were on the same page.

As a sales manager or even business manager if we do not set clear expectations, give guidance and support, as well as giving clear directions on what we want, we may not be able to get our people to do what we want. How can you get on their level and understand where they are coming from and what their goals are? Having the right people in the right seats is important, but managing those people effectively is very important as well.

Without clarity and focus on a vision, your team may easily get sidetracked by all the shinny objects that come across their path, just as my son did every time there was a new leaf. You can see in the video no amount of pushing was going to make my son stay focused. He didn't have the skills, interest, or just didn't understand what I was communicating. This is understandable with a toddler, right? Yes, of course. Adults on the other hand always understand what we are telling them to do, right? Sadly, no. Often times we are very poor communicators and so these adults hear us, but have no buy-in (similar to my son) or no understanding for WHY you are asking them to do certain things. 

This is where the vision and documented processes come in. You see without vision and documented processes and a formal business plan showing how each part of how the business works and support the other parts, employees don't get it. Without continued training, support, re-enforcement, and leading by example coming from the top, your team will never get 100% behind your vision and where you want to take your company or sales team.

I do a poor job of offering support, encouragement, and training in this video. Sadly, this is how many managers work and push their employees and team members. As you saw in the video, I had mild success, but overall I was a little disappointed with the overall performance. How often is this the case with your employees and/or salespeople? Could it be your management style that is keeping you from getting the success you want? Are you willing to change if you found a solution to fix the "YOU" problem? If you want better results, than the only solution is change the things you are doing and way you think.

So what is the solution if you realize that you may have some of the same issues we've discussed? Here are two solutions…

  1. Take the free Orginizational Checkup to get a better idea of the health of your organization. The health of the company could be why your are not growing your business and have consistent employee churn (turnover) or under performance. Just click the link or go to

  2. If your problem is more in the sales department, I would recommend evaluating your whole team and sales culture. An unhealthy sales culture will breed poor results and employee churn. If you find your sales team needs tools and support, but you are unable to or do not know how to provide this internally, maybe you need to partner with someone that can deliver sales training, support and coaching for both salespeople and sales managers


I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or thoughts, please share them below.