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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Is Underperformance a Reflection of Leadership?

Is Underperformance a Reflection of Leadership

I have some news for you, both good and bad.

The good news is that your team's success depends entirely on your salespeople. Now, for the bad news... your success also hinges on the salespeople on your team.

In other words, your sales team's ability to close deals and meet targets determines whether you win or lose.

It may sound daunting, but it doesn't have to be. You have control over your destiny. You get to choose who joins your sales team and how they perform based on your hiring and leadership.

So, when your team is underperforming, resist the temptation to point fingers and blame external factors like the market, economy, product, or the team itself. The truth is, it reflects on your leadership. This is your team, your salespeople, and it's up to you to address the issues.

Let's explore three ways in which sales underperformance can be a reflection of leadership, and make sure you avoid these mistakes.

Lack of Clear Goals and Strategy

Sales is not just about numbers; it's a strategic endeavor that requires direction, planning, and well-defined objectives. It's like setting sail without a clear destination and a route—you'll end up drifting aimlessly.

Leadership bears the responsibility of setting these crucial markers. Without clear goals and a defined strategy, your sales team will struggle, leading to inefficiencies and demotivation. When the leadership fails to establish explicit targets and provide a roadmap, the team is less likely to optimize their efforts, resulting in underperformance.

Leadership: Improve This Skill, Improve Sales Performance

Inadequate Training and Development

As markets evolve and customer preferences change, salespeople must adapt their skill sets accordingly. It falls on leaders to ensure their team is equipped with the latest knowledge, techniques, and skills.

An underperforming sales team can indicate complacency in leadership regarding training and development. In today's competitive environment, a team that isn't continuously evolving to meet changing conditions can struggle to close deals, leaving room for competitors to gain an advantage. Over time, the lack of adequate training becomes apparent, leading to a decline in sales performance.

Poor Communication and Feedback

Effective leadership goes hand in hand with effective communication. Leaders should excel at setting expectations, providing constructive feedback, and fostering an environment of open dialogue.

Consistent underperformance in a sales team may indicate a lack of efficient communication channels from leadership. This communication gap can leave team members uncertain about their roles, confused about the strategy, or feeling unappreciated.

On the other hand, leaders who prioritize transparent, two-way communication and regular feedback can ensure their team remains aligned, motivated, and ready for high performance.


While these factors are not the only ones influencing sales performance, they serve as a reminder that underperformance often stems from leadership.

It's crucial for leaders to continuously evaluate and adapt, providing clear strategies, robust training, and effective communication to guide their teams to success. Remember, the performance of a sales team not only reflects their skills and efforts and mirrors their leadership.

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Topics: leadership development