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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Expect the Best From Your Salespeople – and Get It!

Expect the Best From Your Salespeople

Have you ever spilled coffee down your shirt just before leaving for work and decided it would be a bad day?

You expected it to be a bad day, so it probably was! A negative mindset can set the tone for the hours to come.

On the other hand, have you ever felt so good about a presentation you were making that you walked in with super-charged confidence and a little extra bounce in your step? Odds are, your confidence level led to a top-notch performance, and that led to a positive outcome.

Both of those situations are examples of self-fulfilling prophecies. Self-fulfilling prophecies don’t just apply to you; they also apply to managing others.

Unleashing Sales Talent Through Positive Leadership 

When a manager just “knows” that their seller will do a great job with something, they unintentionally communicate their confidence to the seller through non-verbal cues such as a smile or a nod. Picking up on these cues, salespeople usually find that their confidence in their abilities and actual performance is greatly impacted.

Think about all the people in your life who have impacted who you are today—your coaches, mentors, leaders, and friends. They’ve all expected you to succeed, and you knew about that expectation. In some cases, they probably believed in you when you didn’t even believe in yourself.

Similarly, you can have a positive, long-term effect on the performance of your talented salespeople through the power of expectations.

Why Compassionate Leadership Matters

The secret to setting the right expectations for people starts with talent. Each individual brings a unique set of talents to the table, and what you expect of them should be based on their strengths. We all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses that are hard-wired in us from a very young age.

If you have the wrong expectations for someone and expect them to be something they simply are not, it can be damaging. As you set expectations, ask yourself:

  • What are this person’s strengths?
  • What comes naturally to them?
  • What doesn’t come as easily to them?
  • How can I set them up for success?

If you expect very little from your salespeople, you are likely to get very little in return. But if you expect a lot from your salespeople, and they have the innate talent to succeed, the sky is the limit.

3 Ways To Harness The Power of Expectations

1. Create the Right Mood

You communicate expectations both verbally and non-verbally. Think about the mood you’re creating and the message you’re sending through your tone of voice, eye contact, and body language.

  • Smiling more, looking people in the eye, and having open body language can communicate your confidence in someone’s ability to perform.

  • Uncross your arms, maintain eye contact, and give that person your full attention when you are talking with them.

Unlocking Success: The Power of a Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

2. Embrace a Culture of Growth

Teach, train, and coach your salespeople. Provide plenty of information and resources so they feel fully informed and never out of the loop.

Conduct “what if” exercises during sales meetings, schedule brainstorming sessions, and encourage everyone to share ideas, opinions, and success stories. The more you invest in your team, the more they will want to perform for you.

Provide opportunities for your salespeople to experience increasingly challenging assignments. This will communicate that you truly believe in their potential and will encourage them to stretch their talents to new heights.

3. Offer Continuous Feedback on Performance

Recognizing big accomplishments and celebrating their wins is crucial, but it’s not enough. Remember to praise your salespeople often. Let them know what they’re doing right each step of the way, not just when they cross the finish line.

When you give frequent, consistent, specific, and positive feedback on performance, you set the expectation that you believe in them, that they are on the right track, and that you want them to succeed.


As a leader, you have the power of expectations on your side. With continued focus, you can use that power to generate tremendous momentum for your team.

Setting expectations around strengths can become a catalyst for great achievements.

10 Steps to Powerful Feedback

*Editor's Note: This blog has been updated since its original publish date.

Topics: leadership sales talent