Episode OneHundredEightyOne

So You Want to Lead a Sales Team

Guest: John Eitel, the VP of Sales at Canva

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About This Episode

Say you’re the leader of a sales team. 

Maybe you’re a VP. Maybe you’re a director of sales. Maybe you’re a sales manager.

Whatever your title, you have a very specific role at your organization. Your job is to lead the sales team. To set direction, vision, strategy, and purpose. 

But how do you hire? As your company grows, how do you handle the changing needs of a sales organization? 

How do you balance the confidence needed to succeed in a sales role with the fact that you’re human and sometimes you have to talk yourself into getting out of bed in the morning? 

What is your responsibility as the leader of a sales team, and how do you manage the energy of a dynamic group of sales professionals? 

On this episode of the Sales Engagement podcast, we sit down with John Eitel, the VP of Sales at Canva, for a discussion around these very questions, as well as a host of others. 

The Ever-Evolving Needs of a Company

In 2019, there were approximately 157 million Americans in the US workforce. 

And no two employees are built the same. 

The fact of the matter is, no matter what size your company is, your needs are going to change. The types of employees you need when you are a 50 person company are going to be very different from the types you need when you’re a 50,000 person company. 

Not everybody is going to be a good fit for a big company, and not everybody is going to be a good fit for a startup. 

There are a lot of great things about working for a big company. Benefits, resources, etc. But ask anybody who thrives in a startup world and they’ll tell you that there are great things about small companies too. 

Culture, camaraderie, teamwork. 

It all depends on the type of employee that your company needs at whatever stage you’re in.

There’s no shame in someone who was once a good fit for the organization deciding that it’s time to move on. People grow. Companies grow. And sometimes they grow apart. 

But through it all, you need employees who are loyal, dedicated, and confident. Which begs the question: What do you do when the confidence isn’t there? 

Confidence vs. Cold Feet

It’s no secret that to succeed in the sales profession, you’ve got to have confidence.

Have you ever been pitched by someone who clearly didn’t have the self-confidence necessary to land the sale? It’s excruciating both for the seller as well as the potential buyer. 

But how do you balance the confidence with the cold feet?


How do you motivate your team to knock it out of the park when you had to give yourself a pep talk in the parking lot just to make it into the building? 

Understand Your Own Energy

Be in tune with yourself. Know your feelings, and be able to channel it into those around you. 

Understand What Motivates People

Sometimes all it takes to get someone out of their funk is a simple “you’re doing great.” It pulls them out of their funk. 

Check In Regularly

Ask your team how they’re doing. Get involved (respectfully) in their lives. Get to know them beyond the 9-5. 

Nobody expects you as a leader to be perfect, or to have great days every day. But your job is to fight through the cold feet and inspire your teams to greatness. 

What is My Role? 

As a sales leader, what exactly is your role? 

Obviously it’s the setting of direction and strategy. It’s making sure that you have a world-class, highly functioning team.

Those things go without saying. 

Leading a sales team is a lot about managing energy and providing focus to your team. To the people who are committed to doing their best for you every day. 

How do you manage energy? What does that even mean?

It comes down to understanding your people and understanding what motivates them. Where do they want to go in their careers? 

What does their future look like to them? 

And how can you help them get there? 

This post is based on a podcast interview with John Eitel from Canva. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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