Energy-givers are people who contribute to the lives of others, while energy-takers are motivated solely by their own gain. I believe the most effective salespeople are leaders who give energy to their teammates.

I once traveled with a sales representative who dropped an order to his inside sales partner with delivery instructions that read only “Lot 27 – Cambridge Development.” The order was handwritten, and I doubted the numbers on it were legible. The salesman rushed between offices and tasks, but at no time did he show any appreciation of his teammates’ challenges.

When we were back in his truck, I asked, “Will your inside salesperson and driver know the location of Lot 27?” He responded that the driver knew the development well and that the inside sales representative had the phone numbers if there were any questions. I later asked the inside salesperson and driver if these assumptions were true. As you might expect, they expressed frustration at the constant lack of information.

If you are interested in being an energy-giver, here’s how:

  1. Manage credit proactively. Energy-takers complain about the “sales prevention department” and feel victimized by credit policies. Energy-givers recognize their role as the eyes and ears in the field for their credit management associates. They warn those staffers when they sense something is amiss with someone applying for credit. They accept responsibility for collections by intervening in the process. And because they do this, they earn the benefit of the doubt when recommending that customers get extended credit terms.
  2. Give abundant information to administrative support staff. Energy-takers are lax in providing jobsite directions, contact information for deliveries, and details for material returns.They expect inside sales associates to manage customer information. Your attention to such details will produce better service to customers, repeat purchases, cross-selling opportunities, and referrals.
  3. Praise teammates. Energy-takers are eager to receive praise and frequently heap it on themselves. Energy-givers tell their delivery drivers about compliments from job superintendents, praise the inside sales team for solving problems, and give tribute to their supervisors for creating an environment that produces success. Praise costs virtually nothing while producing extraordinary results.
  4. Take time to train. Knowledge may be introduced in formal training sessions, but it takes hold in on-the-job coaching moments. Take time to teach product knowledge, ordering procedures, and software technology. Every situation in which you encounter a frustrated teammate reveals a teaching moment. Take that opportunity to teach in order to avoid mistakes that could cost hours later.
  5. Be humble. I recently watched a client’s annual sales awards ceremony. Remarkably, every award winner displayed humility and gratitude. Each expressed thanks to managers and staff members for making extraordinary success possible.

Rick Davis is the president of Building Leaders, a training organization devoted exclusively to the sale of building materials. His latest book, "The Sales Secret," is now available. To order it, go to, call 773.769.4409, or contact Rick at [email protected].