The Rise (and potential Fall) of the Producer/Leader

The Rise (and potential Fall) of the Producer/Leader

Many great bankers or sales people in a growing organization inevitably get that tap on the shoulder and are asked to consider a leadership role.

This promotion opportunity is a deserving reward for consistently exceeding annual sales targets and the ultimate recognition that they have outstanding sales skills that can be emulated by others.

But it’s important to critically assess if this new responsibility will truly benefit the outstanding producer and the organization …. or if it may frustrate them and their Team – causing more damage than good.

If sales people are struggling within your organization to produce results, don’t simply promote your best sales person and ask them to help.

To their credit, most great sales people will help but then they may become burdened with lack of time to do anything else. The short-term performance gains are soon outweighed by complaints or discouragement about long hours and extra work.

So how do you know if someone can be a great Producer/Leader?

It starts with understanding the motivations and needs of the individuals and the organization.

Before offering the promotion, explore the Top Producer’s personal “life” goals and career aspirations. Challenge their understanding about what it means to be a Sales Leader and why they would want the role.

A Top Producer ideally considers a leadership promotion because:

  • They are genuinely interested in helping others succeed and achieve their personal goals.
  • They value Team building and multiplying their success across a broader group.
  • They are willing to sacrifice personal rewards/recognition for Team success … albeit they recognize that greater Team success produces greater growth for the organization and better rewards for everyone.
  • They are interested in evolving their own skills and learning how to better lead/coach others.

Leadership promotion should never be considered or sought due to perceived entitlement or for recognition.

There are many other ways to accommodate a Top Producer’s desire for recognition. Consider a title promotion (eg. Director, SVP) … or a formal accolade that they can claim … or a public announcement. Think very carefully before offering them a leadership position.

Remember, you always want to help your Top Producer achieve their true personal goals …. not add a new layer of responsibility that they may be unable to effectively fulfill causing discontent, disruption and adversely impacting their success … and the success of others.


The Misconception about Sales Leadership

Not every great Sales Producer is capable of being a good Leader (or even truly desires to be a Leader). And that’s ok – as highlighted earlier, there are many ways to continually reward and recognize Top Producers.

Sales Leadership can be hard work and the challenge of multiplying your previous success through a number of individuals generally requires more skill and effort than winning your own deals.

Sales Leadership does not mean you can put up your feet after many years of pounding the pavement and simply delegate your sales tasks to others.

Sales Leadership does not mean you demand others to identically replicate the sales efforts you performed as a sales person.

Sales Leadership does not mean directing your Team to achieve annual sales targets through a vast array of sales tactics and campaigns that may or may not have worked for you in previous years.

Sales Leadership does not simply involve diligent pipeline management and challenging your staff to improve their efforts to get more deals in the pipe.

Such “leadership” tactics inevitably have a detrimental impact on the Team as they are not being engaged to thoughtfully develop their long-term strategies or being consistently coached to further evolve their sales skills, behaviors and beliefs.

Many new Leaders also misunderstand what it means to lead by example. Leading by example is not showing your sales people what to do. Leading by example is demonstrating proven best practices and coaching them on how they can develop their own best practices.


Becoming a Great Sales Leader

Sales people want to be lead not managed.

A new Sales Leader needs to further evolve their strategic planning skills so they can now engage their Team in a meaningful review of their target market and how to drive greater results.

Sales people want to be coached and not instructed.

A new Sales Leader needs to further evolve their coaching skills so they can help their Team develop their skills, behaviors and beliefs whilst embracing their natural strengths.

It is not about creating sales clones. Every sales person has different motivations, talents, habits and beliefs. Asking them to simply do what works for you may not actually work for them.

In order to help the new Leader drive greater results for the organization and the Team you need to create a structure that allows them to formally identify and agree on local market opportunities with their Team, develop better sales practices for their Team and regularly review Team performance (and motivations).

Of course, there will be lots and lots of direct tactical support provided by the Leader with client/prospect meetings, completing sales proposals, negotiating agreements and overcoming objections. This tactical support is extremely valuable, but it can be very time consuming.

A new Sales Leader must find ways to formally develop the sales skills, behaviors and beliefs of their Team to help improve their confidence and allow them to effectively complete these sales tasks more autonomously.

Not only will this free up a Producer/Leader’s time but will also produce the success multiplier effect that everyone is seeking.

This is the true measure of a great Sales Leader.


Helping the Producer/Leader Rise …. and not Fall

As highlighted earlier, most new Sales Leaders are Top Sales Producers who have been given the opportunity to expand their success.

Most of the time, the new Sales Leader is also required to continue growing and managing their own portfolio – hence the term “Producer/Leader”.

Producer/Leader is generally the interim step before becoming a dedicated Sales Leader – but it is also the hardest.

Arguably, a Top Producer never fully disassociates themselves from their clients, but in order to be successful as a Sales Leader they need to create capacity to formally guide, mentor and coach their Team.

This is a critical consideration for any Bank or organization when helping their Producer/Leader effectively rise.

If the goal for promoting a Top Producer is to emulate their efforts across a greater number of individuals, then you need to provide structure and support so they can lead and develop their Team – not just help with sales transactions.

Without consideration being given to structure and support you are not creating great sales leaders who inspire others, you are simply imposing extra work and responsibility that leads to frustration and discontent.

A Bank or organization needs to consider the following if they want the Producer/Leader to be successful:


  • Review the organizational structure to ensure the Producer/Leader is properly supported.
  • Encourage the Producer/Leader to formally review and document the strategy and skills of the Team and to develop a focused plan for growth and improvement.
  • Encourage the Producer/Leader to implement a formal coaching program and cadence that enables them to more effectively evolve the skills, behaviors and beliefs of their Team.
  • Formally schedule leadership meetings with an agreed agenda to review the Producer/Leader’s performance and provide coaching/support.
  • Revise and agree on performance goals/measures for the Producer/Leader to better review both direct sales and leadership activity (hint: don’t just focus on sales targets/results for the Team).


  • Review the Producer/Leader’s existing client portfolio and understand time commitments and capacity to acquire more clients and lead/coach their Team.
  • Consider recruiting administration support and/or additional sales people who can directly assist the Producer/Leader with the management of their portfolio.
  • Support the effective transition of some of the Producer/Leader’s clients to other Team members.
  • Formally provide leadership coaching for the Producer/Leader.
  • Invest in sales resources and systems to help the Producer/Leader coach and review their Team’s performance.
  • Formally review the Producer/Leader’s performance on regular basis and consider their further support needs/request.
  • Review policies, processes and procedures and make it easier for the Producer/Leader to support their Team’s sales activities.
  • Consider long-term recruitment (and/or client transition) needs that support greater growth.

By promoting Top Producers who are genuinely committed to helping others achieve greater success and providing them with the appropriate structure and support to effectively do so, you can advance the rise of the Producer/Leader and ultimately create great dedicated Sales Leaders.


Dear Future Sales Leader …..

Please remember that leadership is not about doing whatever it takes to help your Team achieve their goals. This is noble – but not sustainable or scalable.

Leadership is about formally guiding and coaching your staff to develop their own skills, behaviors and beliefs so that they can thrive without you.

Perhaps they may even produce better results than you.

If you can accept that and are committed to proactively guiding others, then you are ready to take your amazing sales talent to the next level.

Good Luck. Go Forth and Lead!

Article written by Joe Micallef – Sales Strategist & Coach – Grow UP Sales. For advice on how to develop highly effective Producer/Leaders please email or visit the webpage

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