The Self-Directed Sales Team vs. Management-Directed Sales Team

In working with hundreds of sales teams and thousands of salespeople on these teams throughout our careers, we have observed two ways to categorize these teams: self-directed or management-directed.

The companies we work with are neither one nor the other but fall somewhere along a spectrum. This is not to say that one type of team is better than the other, as each has its benefits and challenges.

Let’s ask ourselves, “Where is my team on this spectrum?” and “Where do I want it to be?”

Common Attributes of the Self-Directed Team

A collage of a man in a suit.
  • Made up of (largely) savvy veterans or resourceful new-comers
  • Sells on relationship
  • Doesn’t want to be told who to call on or what to talk about
  • Doesn’t need a map to get to the customers
  • Makes a living delivering the number!
  • Knows where the secrets are buried
  • (can be a bit of the inmates running the asylum)

The Self-Directed Sales Team, blending seasoned experts and innovative rookies, thrives on rela

Common Attributes of the Management-Directed Sales Team

An illustration of a woman speaking with a megaphone in front of a group of people.
  • Understands the business’s goals
  • Able to articulate the strategy
  • Utilizes process to sell
  • Has line of sight to the 5-15 meaningful measures of the business
  • Regularly does pre-call planning
  • Understands which products & customers generate the best return for the business
  • Focused on overall business results
  • (Uses controls to fly the plane)

The Management-Directed Sales Team aligns closely with business goals, strategically utilizing processes and key metrics for effective selling. They focus on pre-call planning and identifying the most profitable products and customers, driving overall business results with precision and control, much like expertly piloting a plane.


Again, neither end of the spectrum is the ideal state. In fact, for a team to maximize its growth potential, it should have both characteristics.

This spectrum is something we discuss when our clients are looking at implementing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, whether they currently have one or not. It’s important that, as a service provider. We understand where the team falls on the spectrum and what its management is looking to achieve by implementing processes and tools.

This is because a self-directed team often sees the idea of moving to a management-directed sales team as a bad concept, but in order to have a successful implementation of a tool like a CRM platform, it is critical that the management team shows the sales team the benefit of such a tool.

For further ideas on this, see our Sales Team CRM Buy-In Questions article.

Our team is also here to help – we have a proven plan to get your team onboarded and using the Repfabric platform to its fullest potential! Reach out to our sales team at to get started.