Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Right Person, Wrong Seat - March 2, 2019

On so many occasions I’ve written about the hiring and firing process pertaining to sales people. I was recently counseling a sales manager on a similar yet slightly different topic. He has a young lady in a sales role that seems to be a fantastic employee but who does not seem to be a good fit for the outside sales role. She gets along well with the other sales people, members of her entire organization, and clients like her. However, her confidence drops when she has to either “cold call” or “go in for the close”. In the sales managers words, “she’s one hell of an account manager, but we don’t employee account managers”.


This is a perfect example of right person, wrong seat. Wouldn’t we all love to have an employee like this, one that both your coworkers and clients like to do business? It is not always a tough yes/no decision. In this case my colleague can have the right person, he simply needs to develop the right seat.


In his case, while the company has never employed an account manager, I’ve encouraged him and his fellow executives to add this role specifically for her. Imagine what positive impacts she will have on the business as a whole when she no longer needs to be worried about cold calling or closing a new deal. Letting this young lady do what she does best will net results. Repeat orders, addressing customer concerns professionally with empathy, and supporting sales people who are good at cold calling and closing but don’t necessarily enjoy the account management side will allow them to grow too.


Having never had this role in their organization before, my colleague was concerned about how to develop the position, manage the person, and how this role could grow over time. This was probably the easiest part of the answer. It lies within the existing dynamics. She already reports to him, this doesn’t need to change. She loves these elements of the job, the account management tasks, so just let her develop the role as she feels is in the best interest of the company and the clients. And, if this proves to be a good move not only for her but for the company, then let her develop a team and manage it.


There is a lot of good that can come from having the right person in the organization even if it means you have to create the right seat for them. They will be excited and motivated. They will be loyal and dedicated to the cause. They will be appreciative to you and their coworkers for placing such trust in them. And, they will rise to the occasion, not wanting to disappoint, and will potentially change your organization from a revenue / business growth standpoint. 

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