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Sustaining B2B Sales Force Growth & Acceleration

What Happens To Your B2B Sales Growth And Acceleration When The Sales Consultants Leave?


When choosing a consultant, what happens after the consultant leaves is almost as important as what happens during the sales force turnaround. Does your team learn from the experience and continue to grow, or does it go back to “business as usual” or BAU?

sales success or failure signBright sales future aheadSales train wreck

Here’s a real-life example of a highly successful turnaround that dropped like a lead balloon after the transition to new leadership.


A sales division within a billion dollar company was failing miserably. Turnover was high, morale was low, and sales results were dismal. So dismal, in fact, that the division had not even come close to its business plan objective for several years in a row. If sales did not improve, the division would be closed and several dozen people would be out of work.


The turnaround manager came in and improved the atmosphere & attitudes along with the sales processes & administrative systems. The breath of fresh air allowed existing staff to feel like they had a new job with a new company. The sales office was filled with energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. Morale was high and the only turnover was company elected due to non-performance.


The division loved its employees so much that even when a rep was being terminated for performance reasons, they would celebrate the employee as a human being (and thank them for their service) by hosting a farewell lunch in their honor on their last day at work. B2B sales results quickly doubled, and then for good measure doubled once again.


All of this transpired in less than a year. The turnaround manager moved on to his next assignment, and the future of the division looked bright.

The new head of the sales division was introduced. This individual was previously a first-level sales manager who had worked in the division prior to and during the turnaround. The entire division gathered in the auditorium in great anticipation of the new leader’s initial address. The reverberations from these words quickly trembled throughout the company:


“We’ve had enough of this rah-rah stuff! We know what we have to do, and we know how to do it. Let’s get to work!” The battle horn had been blown. The edict was given. No more laughing, no more fun. For crying out loud, this is a business. Let’s get back to business as usual. The formerly oppressive regime has been reinstated.


Whooosh! The air immediately left the room. The looks on the faces of everyone went from hopeful to bleak in a nanosecond. You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium.


Of course, shortly thereafter “business as usual” took the business right back to where it was. The sales performance gains previously made by these hard working souls went right down the toilet and turnover escalated once again. The division had become a workplace nightmare. I could go into far greater detail, but frankly it makes my stomach turn just recalling the story.

This is obviously not the scenario you want when the consultants leave a successful turnaround. So, how do we prevent this from happening to your company?


  • All sales managers and executives need to be de-briefed and coached on the entire turnaround process from soup to nuts before consultant’s transition away from the turnaround.


        o What – Why – When – How

              They need to know WHAT was done

              WHY it was done—what purpose it served

              WHEN: The strategic timing behind the initiative

              HOW to do it on their own if necessary


  • Standards need to be embedded into the existing management covering a broad spectrum of behaviors, values, and disciplines:


        o Physical environment

        o Emotional atmosphere

        o Coaching standards: type, frequency, feedback style, performance goals

        o Communication strategy

        o Sales management administrative system

        o Driving performance

        o Sales rep maintenance system

        o Performance counseling

        o Dismissing with dignity


If these steps would have taken place in the example above, the new leader could have had the opportunity to understand “why” things were done in the manner that they were, and the “impact” behind each of these strategies.


By their actions, we can make the assumption that s/he did not feel that the strategies invoked by their predecessor had any bearing on the turnaround. Instead, they likely felt that the relationship between the turnaround manager’s arrival and the acceleration of sales was merely a coincidence in timing. Otherwise stated, the turnaround was already taking place and the new leader just happened to be along for the ride.


To maintain your results after the consultants leave, insure that your consultant commits to at least these two things:


  • They will provide training along the way so that their results can be replicated by the sales managers and leaders after the consultants leave (Coaching the Coach)

  • A turnaround de-briefing is conducted with all sales leaders at the conclusion of the assignment as outlined above.


With these protocols in place, you will be much better prepared for continued prosperity after the consultant’s departure.

Posted December 4, 2013   /   By  Chris Hickey

Tags: sales leadership, change management, sales consulting, sales consultant, sales turnaround, turnaround management, sales management, sales management training, sales management coaching, sales operations, interim sales management, sales force effectiveness,

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