Insights from Chief Mastermind Jack Kelly

Does this sound familiar? “Margot has been our top salesperson for five years now. We have never been able to get the rest of the team to produce at her level. Let’s promote her to Director of Sales. She will whip that team into shape! And, she can still carry a quota while showing the others how to do it.”

Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

This is something I see happen far too often. Let’s look at how many false assumptions are buried in that statement:

1) She wants to lead a team. She may have zero interest in leading. Maybe the reason she hasn’t approached you about it is she likes her gig just the way it is (and don’t you?).

2) The rest of your team has the same level of talent as Margot. If your team is underperforming, how will she change them when nobody else could? It could be that you have the wrong people on the team or they have not been trained properly.

3) She can still produce at the same level while being responsible for everyone else’s success. I have seen very few of these work, especially for first-time managers and top performers. If their performance (and paycheck) starts to slip, where do you think they are going to spend their time and effort?

4) She can transition from a “Me” focus to a “We” focus. This is a common mistake: assumed leadership capability. There are some who naturally lead. Unfortunately, top performing sales professionals usually don’t fall into that category. This can be taught and developed… if they are willing and interested.

If your sales team is struggling, chances are it is a combination of issues, not solely a leadership problem. Common contributing factors are changing markets, poor hiring, and a lack of a defined sales experience.

To address these issues, you should take the time to identify the underlying challenges and realistic solutions. If you do, you will create a better sales organization. And, you will not risk your relationship with the most productive member of your sales team.


Jack Kelly founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.

Mastermind Insights