Your Salespeople Better Be Business People or Your Business May Be Out of Business

The breadth, knowledge, and ability of your salespeople equal the breadth, knowledge, and ability for them to grow the business. If you want to improve the performance outcome of your sales team, you must first educate them about the business and develop their complete awareness between their decisions and outcomes in sales.

A given? Not at all. Salespeople are expected to do one thing... SELL.  Far easier said than done. In many cases, salespeople are unaware, under-equipped and unsupported in their quest. A lack of a focused approach around teaching them the business of the business will likely leave them unfulfilled and under-performing against the target or expectation.


The mandate to “just go sell” is far easier said than done.
Why do you think this is and what do you think about this statement?

Salespeople as Business People

The leaders of sales teams would be well advised to invest in developing their salespeople to be business people. The days of having a sales manager/director/team leader do everything for a salesperson prevents growth rather than maximizing opportunities. Having someone else do what a salesperson should have the awareness, skill, and presence to do supports a lack of accountability and a lack of performance.

The leaders of salespeople and sales teams need to have a focused approach around increasing the awareness and knowledge of their salespeople connected to the business. This is the process of developing salespeople as business people.

Here are five characteristics of sales teams where their business knowledge is advancing sales growth.

The Sales and Business Behavior That’s Expected is Rewarded

Incentive and bonus compensation are directly connected to the performance that’s expected. They aren’t used to try and manage salespeople. Expected behaviors are defined and the incentive is the result of demonstrating those behaviors.

Beyond Price, the Salespeople Consider Margin in Relationship with Customers

Each investment that’s made has an expected rate of return. Considering customers in relation to profitability is no exception. Every customer deserves to be treated well. Every customer should not be treated the same. Knowing the true profitability of each customer is important to salespeople who think like business people. Here’s a primary question they’re asking - “Who in my territory/area is costing me more to do business with than if I weren’t doing business with them?”

They’re Defining a Complete Business Relationship

They recognize that if it’s only about the transaction, there’s no true depth or mutual business respect in the relationship. This is about having the necessary conversations dealing with the complete business dynamic (credit, turns, marketing expense, etc.) rather than just the sale.

Selling Isn’t Done In Isolation

Beyond the people that make it complex, the number of variables that have to be dealt with in sales and business is only increasing. No matter how local, business is truly global. If a salesperson doesn’t understand the potential variables throughout the world that can impact their world, they will be selling in isolation and doing so at their own peril. Maximizing awareness and not selling in isolation comes as the result of educating salespeople at a higher level and knowing that they have the capacity and demonstrated ability to turn that into forward-thinking conversations with customers.

They Understand the Total Picture of the Business

What happens in the business landscape most often has a direct connection to the sales landscape. Think about the number of times something has occurred outside of your business that had an impact on your business. Did you later realize that this was something you should have seen coming? Think about each of the points above and ask yourself how you see those impacting your salespeople and your business.

It’s imperative that salespeople understand their role as business people. A failure to do so means that the future of your business is at risk, both in terms of sales growth and sustainability into the future.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

The Void - Offboarding

We exist in an era in which the leaders of high-performing family businesses have become highly purposeful with the onboarding and integration plans for people that are joining their company. Their focus stems from the intent and desire to engage and connect people with the culture of the company and decrease the chances of someone becoming disengaged or choosing a job-hopping departure.

Uniquely, these same leaders seem to have forgotten about the other end of the equation and that has resulted in large numbers of people, most of them over the age of 60, choosing to keep quiet about any and all plans to announce that their career focus is changing or coming to an end.

According to Bersin by Deloitte, the average cost per hire is almost $4,000. Statistics on offboarding are far more difficult to identify. Experience has shown me that if it’s not being measured, it’s likely not getting done.

The Void

The leaders of privately-held and family-owned businesses must plan for, and deal with, the end of career process (offboarding) as seriously as they do the beginning (onboarding) otherwise, they will face a potentially catastrophic outcome that I refer to as The Void.

The Void  is the empty space created by leaders of companies who fail to establish a process for transferring the large amount of internal knowledge possessed by key people to the next generation of leadership.

Left undefined, this void creates a massive disruption to the business of the business.

Conversely, when clearly thought through, offboarding should be viewed as the catalyst for performance, knowledge and generational continuity within the high-performing environment.

A Key Step

Offboarding should be viewed as a key transition in the life-cycle of individuals who have contributed significant knowledge and value to the company.

Within family businesses, closing the gap on The Void begins by looking at the situation through a different lens. Instead of focusing on this career phase as a conclusion with limited conversation, it should be seen as a phase of definition with expanding dialogue and knowledge share between generations.


  1. How are you consciously expanding the conversation and knowledge share between the generations?
  2. How are you defining and practically capturing internal knowledge from key people while they’re still a part of your company?
  3. Define knowledge sets that are held primarily with one person in your company. Begin purposefully expanding the circle of people who have awareness, understanding and knowledge on those topics.

How are you avoiding The Void? Let me know in the comments.

Wildly Crazy Success

We’re in the midst of the holiday season and with this time of year comes the anticipation of receiving cards, either in your inbox or your mailbox. Which are your favorite to receive? The long letter with the update on life? The photo card bringing memories of family and friends? The stock card with a personal message?

I like cards and letters that are real. Those that are personally written, have meaning and give value to relationships.  I’m not a fan of those that get sent as a gesture or requirement and have no message other than trite generic words that are imprinted by a machine. It’s like telling someone that you thought of them but gave no thought about what you wrote to them.

I keep this in mind every week when I write Thoughtwave. I want each TW to have meaning and speak to our community of readers. Thoughtwave was started with the intent to create a positive disruption that differentiates. It’s not about being mainstream or contrarian. It’s about being real in a way that will never be allowed to become generic.

In 2019 I look forward to bringing you topics that are the most relevant to you. Many of you have asked me to write about a specific topic that’s important to you and that’s exactly what I’m going to do throughout the year. Here’s a sample of Thoughtwaves from topics you’ve suggested.

  1. How to Handle the Black Sheep in Business
  2. The Business of Family Business: Why debt and stress go together.
  3. Branding Your Business
  4. Retirement? Yes or No? Knowing When to Go.

And so much more.

Whether you’re a new manager, mid-level or senior manager, or you own the company, I’m devoted to bringing you useful information.

My appreciation for your readership is perpetual.

I encourage each of you to send me a topic to write about that’s important to you. Think of one of the biggest challenges you faced professionally this year, especially within family business. Because you’re going through it, someone else is too. Let’s work together to continue to create a community of leaders and readers who cause privately-held and family-owned  businesses to thrive. Email your comments and ideas to me directly at:

Your ideas and thoughts are full of potential. Especially when you use your perspectives and thoughts to expand your awareness and the awareness of others. Your ideas matter and I’m listening.

Together, let’s create WILDLY CRAZY SUCCESS. However you define it.

Enjoy the holidays and I’m going to do the same. Thoughtwave will be back shortly after the start of the new year.

Talk to you in 2019!

Be real. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.

The Final Quarter: Thoughtwave Highlights

It’s the final quarter… of 2018. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? In preparation for Q4, we’re sharing our most popular Thoughtwave editions from earlier this year. Check out one you may have missed, or give them all a read with fresh eyes to see how you can purposefully attack Q4.

  1.   My Communication Pet Peeves
    June 12th
    Brent explains his top three communication pet peeves and why they are HIS problem, not yours.
  2. Communication or Manipulation? Can You Tell the Difference?
    April 24th
    Brent discusses “be real or be gone” and the differences between communication and manipulation in leadership.
  3.  Are We Seeing the End of Meaningful Differentiation Among Sales Professionals?
    February 21st
    Brent discusses differentiation among your sales professionals and gaining mindshare with your customer.

Looking for more as you head into Q4? View the Thoughtwave Archive here. (Rhyme included, but not intended).View all of them by clicking here.

P.S. What is your favorite Thoughtwave? Let us know in the comments.

Professional People Watching

*Highlighting different perspectives makes every business stronger. Alyssa is chiming in with a guest post this week.

My boyfriend and I go to the same Mexican restaurant almost every Saturday. You can expect it to be filled with tourists, locals, lifers, and us. Not only is the Mexican food some of the best in town, the restaurant is set up perfectly for people watching.

If there’s one thing that our weekly dive into a basket of chips and salsa has reinforced for me, it’s that people are strange. We’re complicated beings that express ourselves in intricate ways that are difficult to decipher. This fact is inevitable because the reality of interaction is that everything comes down to our own perception.

It’s for this reason the best leaders are excellent people watchers—they become masters of observation and thus navigate situations with greater awareness. They collect the normally untouchable data points to paint a more accurate perception.

Harnessing the Power of Observation

Watch without judgment.
This is hard because it can be fun to guess what people are thinking and feeling as you watch without the proper context. When you observe while purposefully limiting your own bias though, your observations are more actionable. It’s the difference between placing your own value on an action and purely observing an interaction.

For example, it’s not uncommon for us to see people flailing their arms in the air, passionately telling a story while sitting at Matt’s. And in those instances, it’s easy to think, “That woman must be upset, she’s being so forceful in her motions,” versus thinking, “That woman uses hand gestures frequently.” The latter carries less bias.

The same goes for work, if you see a co-worker drawing in a notebook during a meeting do you instantly think they’re distracted, or do you observe further to see if maybe they’re taking a visual note?

What perceptions do you normally place on common observations? How might that be hindering your perception of reality?

Use your observations to ask the right questions.
Even better than observing without judgment, is observing with the intention to ask the right questions. It’s like the saying goes, “when you assume you make an ass out of you and me.” Observing shouldn’t be about making assumptions, it’s about gathering available information to be able to show up to conversations with greater awareness and insight.

Observe intentionally.
We have a tendency to react based on one situation/response we observed. If scientists did this, studies would be wildly insignificant. Instead, they keep detailed field notes to track observations over time. Rather than casually observing, be intentional. When you casually observe, you’re only picking up on details that trigger a response or reaction in you. When you’re intentionally observing you are looking to test a theory and then reflect and analyze your observations. At its finest observation is a cycle of analysis.

Observation is power.

The more observant you are, the more awareness you have when navigating situations. As a result, you can apply your insight and adapt your behavior to meet the needs of the person you’re interacting with.


  1. Do you people watch as closely at work as you do outside of work?
  2. Are you using observation to your advantage or passively moving about your environment?
  3. Are you asking questions after making observations or merely making assumptions?
  4. Pick a person to observe this week. Think about what you learned. How can you adapt your behavior based on what you learned? How did your observations change your point of view?

Want to share your thoughts? Have a great story about observation? Or maybe just a great story about Mexican food? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Make it a great week,

10 Mistakes to Avoid in Handing Down a Family Business

    1. Not making the time to plan early enough.
    2. Making decisions to fill key positions with family members based upon emotion and bias, rather than an actual “fit” for that position.
    3. Placing close relatives into these key positions without first getting an objective assessment to verify the inherent skills to be acting in those positions.
    4. No development program in place to advance the individual performance of your people to sustain the profitability of the business.
    5. Merely dividing business equally for distribution to several family members, without understanding that this is likely to lead to conflicts or discord, cascading into personal family problems.
    6. Holding onto the reins and refusing to let go, and waiting too long to turn over areas of responsibility.
    7. Keeping family members on the payroll that are not performing, particularly in any key position.
    8. Not trusting a chosen family member to have the skills necessary to make decisions and to advance the business when it is time to take over a leadership position.
    9. Never “really” retiring, but running or interfering with the business from outside, or continuing to show up and run the business after claiming to have turned over responsibility.
    10. Making the plan for business succession without outside guidance from a professional with an objective perspective, and without a clear strategy to implement the transition.

Family owned businesses can gain a distinct competitive advantage and sustained profitability if the business transition is planned objectively rather than emotionally.

Connect with Perpetual Development to understand how you can implement a cohesive strategy for transition.

What is Your Business Performance Potential?

There are few businesses that are taking full advantage of the true potential of their core resource, the individuals on the team. The entire group could be operating with a low performance standard set far below actual capacity. A business leader could also be operating at a lower level of energy, drive and engagement. The people in the organization can be confused or even just uninformed about the current business goals, where the business is going as a group, and are disconnected about how his or her performance contributes to meeting those goals. The degree to which the culture is performance-driven is set by the decision makers in the business.

Igniting a performance-driven culture in your business starts with you, as the leader. It also demands an evaluation of your team leaders, sales staff and the entire group. How do you evaluate the performance potential of an individual? This is a highly specialized field that identifies the various human qualities of the individual, as well as their capacity for high level performance. Are you taking advantage of the potential of your people? Do you know their true capabilities? If you could understand what they are capable of, how do you create a culture that inspires this level of performance?

Identifying the strengths of your human capital can allow you to inspire a performance-based culture in which each individual is driven, is personally accountable for their actions, and is operating at top capacity as a member of the group.

Perpetual Development employs a variety of resources to accurately evaluate individual performance capacity. Armed with this data, a strategic plan can be crafted that drives engagement, advancement and exceptional profitability. Connect with Perpetual Development for more information about performance capacity evaluations.

Rapid Growth and Fiscal Health Do Not Ensure Success

Many business owners make the fundamental error of believing that fiscal health indicates that the business is strong. Financial stability is only one of the components of a business that will achieve sustainable growth. As markets change, fiscal health can rapidly deteriorate. The decision makers in the business must have the ability to maintain a high level of focus and readiness. Each individual owner must be resilient, flexible and able to quickly adapt to the inevitable changes in the market, as well as to operate as a leader of an aligned team.

As an example, a mechanical design company with 160 employees had problems – but not financially. The business was growing quickly. The four owners were disconnected, operating without focus or any strategic plan or vision upon which to base their decisions. The CEO at the firm had concerns about the lack of alignment of the partners, and the negative impact this would have on the future of the enterprise. The partners tended to react, generally only by responding to the day-to-day challenges and problems. Critical decisions were being made independently, and the internal operations were out of alignment, creating a high level of friction within the business.

Although the company was profitable, and the internal processes were functioning at some level, the members of the team were not communicating well with each other. There was an increasing problem between the partners, who tended to avoid contact and act independently. Without alignment in the partners, with the added factor of a poor level of communication, the business was at risk. The owners needed to find a process that would get the team aligned, would restore communication, and lead to a shared vision and effective action for future advancement.

The first step in resolving this critical issue was to identify the actual challenges in the business, as opposed to focusing on the symptoms. These challenges included those in leadership, in goals, individual opinions, and the various beliefs and ideas about the business and how it should operate. With the help of a Specialist, the partners identified six existing challenges:

  • Difficulty in hiring employees that performed quality work
  • Poor training processes in place for employees
  • Poor project coordination
  • Poor utilization of resources
  • Concerns about how the business would grow in the future
  • Difficulties in putting systems and procedures into the business to manage higher volume as the business grew

As with any business, fiscal health and profitability are powerful motives. In this example, it is clear that the business was facing internal problems that would eventually destroy it. Without alignment and the ability to adapt to the natural chaos of growth, there is instability, and sustained fiscal health is impossible. Are you concerned about the performance and the low level of communication and engagement in your business?  Do you really understand the actions to take to create a cohesive, performance-driven team? It starts at the top. Your decision makers could be operating in alignment, at a high level of understanding and engagement with the team, and have the ability to inspire performance.