How to Control Your Salespeople’s Results and Drive Excellence by Letting Go

The quest to control everything comes at a great cost. Learn how to expand your influence by giving up control.


Have you ever tried to control the flow or outcome of a conversation, an interaction with a direct report or even a sales call? If so, attempting to maintain this kind of control prevents you from being able to do the two things that every salesperson and sales manager needs to do extremely well. You cannot be creating any new possibilities and you certainly cannot be actively listening. Reason being:

When you focus on you and what you want, you’re no longer focusing on the other person and what they want.

The ability to actively listen and be creative are two of the most important attributes of any sales leader. After all, it is your job to create new and better solutions for your customers or direct reports.

Conversely, the quest to control creates more of what you don’t want; mediocrity.

Control or Create – You Choose

If you’re wondering about the relationship between control and creation and how this impacts you, here’s why these two powerful forces are in an eternal state of conflict.

  • Control is an attempt to generate predictable, expected results. Creation is about being open to new possibilities and generating new results and breakthroughs that have never been achieved before.
  • Control is rigid. Creation is fluid and evolving.
  • Control is based on achieving a certain outcome in the future. Creation, as well as active listening, can only happen in the present moment.
  • Control is about focusing on producing a known outcome or specific result and pushing your approach and agenda to achieve it. Consequently, those sales leaders who do so walk into a conversation or situation with blinders on.
  • While there may be a specific, desired outcome to achieve, the creation process allows you to recognize what is also occurring in your peripheral vision. Creation does not always focus on a linear process nor pushes only one way to achieve a final outcome. This enables you to recognize new and greater possibilities, which may have initially been outside of what you can see in your line of vision.

As you can see, if you are attempting to control the outcome of a conversation or even a sales call, then you cannot be creating new possibilities in the moment. As such, if you are focused on what you want to control, then you will fail to recognize all of the powerful coaching opportunities that show up every day, along with a plethora of selling, cross-selling as well as up-selling opportunities.

Conversely, if you are in a constant state of creation, then you are going to allow new possibilities and solutions to surface naturally.

Respect Dualities

Both coaching, as well as selling, can be defined as the art of creating possibility. Salespeople are responsible for the creation rather than the controlling of solutions when it comes to engaging with prospects and customers. Therefore, if you are a highly creative salesperson, then there is no need for you to attempt to control the outcome.

“Wait a second, Keith. If I’m in a constant state of creativity, don’t I need some structure to support it? I mean, should I toss out my entire sales process, calendar, CRM, and goals?”

Not at all.  And yet, another great example of getting caught up in absolute thinking, which is something I discuss in this article here. Just like any belief or process, the proverbial pendulum can swing to the extreme on either side, rather than balancing what may be perceived as two conflicting truths. But two conflicting truths or beliefs can co-exist at the same time, hence a duality. You certainly want to honor your daily routine, your sales process as well as your goals, while simultaneously being flexible and creative.

However, you are not going to do so to the point where they have your gripped and are controlling you. Said a different way, when things change (whether it’s the market, your career, your prospects, your product or service, a relationship with someone, and so on), that’s when you want to be flexible so that you can adapt to change and adjust your processes and strategies accordingly.

The real opportunity to let go of control is in the present moment during a conversation, an interaction, a dialogue. To become a best-in-class coach, whether you’re selling or managing, your primary role is to give value by uncovering new possibilities that didn’t exist before.

As a salesperson, it is your creativity that will enable you to uncover opportunities to deliver value that your competition would otherwise miss.

Influence Without Control

You can’t play it safe and expect extraordinary results. Conversely, you can’t embrace innovation without taking calculated risks.

This is something we all get challenged on every day. In any interaction or conversation, there’s always a point where we are at choice to either forge ahead with our self-obsessed agenda or take a step back and ask ourselves, “What new possibilities could be created here if I suspend my agenda for a moment, put aside what I think is right and best and just allow myself to explore?”

After all, there’s some fear in being flexible and opening yourself up to new opportunities, especially if you’re a control freak! As a recovering perfectionist, I know this is one of the reasons why I work so well with salespeople and managers. I can identify with what they go through since I’ve already gone through this myself!

It’s always more comfortable to stay within the realm of what we know and what we’re comfortable with. For many people, the unknown can be intimidating, even risky!

But if looked upon logically, it is your open mind and flexibility that creates the space where breakthroughs can happen and where individuals continually uncover and reinvent their competitive edge.

To truly generate unprecedented results, be mindful of this universal truth. Being flexible and influential is more powerful than being in control.