- Salesperson 1 shows up two hours late to an appointment with no call, email, or explanation upon arrival.
- Salesperson 2 backtracks on prior, written, sales programs, resorting to name-calling in the process.
- Salesperson 3 “drops in” unannounced and offers no focus/value.
- Salesperson 4 fails to return phone calls and emails – and allows his staff to justify the behavior.
- Salesperson 5 uses the same canned message for every type of prospective customer.
I know sales quite well. I engage with salespeople all day long. I also sell.
The examples above are from my direct experiences with salespeople with whom I work to buy software, hardware and security solutions…….which I then sell to my customers.
Providing great detail for each example above isn’t necessary……..as each example clearly conveys an absence of sales professionalism, with challenges ranging from incompetence to arrogance.
In every case, salespersons 1-5 are considered “seasoned” with over 20 years of selling experience and operating at a Regional to National level within their organization. Which is to say, “this is quite a pathetic picture.”
Why is it so? Why do these glaring examples of poor salespeople exist? I surmise it is a “No Accountability” issue.
Accountable salespeople don’t exhibit the behaviors above. Sales Executives have a role to play in this, for certain. Their actions determine the existence…or absence…of an environment of accountability among National and Regional Sales Managers. Meaning much of the responsibility for an unprofessional sales force lies at their feet.
Even if sales plans/dollars are being met, the failure to create an accountable sales force is really a Sales Executive choosing to “leave money on the table” by not fully developing “ALL” the elements that define a professional sales team.
More than that, however, an individual salesperson without a sense of “personal accountability” is a cancer on the sales team. The one-dimensional salesperson still exists – “deliver my numbers at all costs.” And part of that “at all costs” is the arrogance, incompetence, and poor people skills left in their wake.
Thankfully, professional salespeople outnumber the examples above! Yet, as we know in all areas of our society (look at law enforcement issues in today’s news) it only takes a few examples of questionable professionalism to impact the great work of the larger group.
The takeaway: If you are an executive responsible for a sales team, hold them accountable. If you are in sales and see yourself in the examples above, either make a concrete (and lasting) change in your approach or find a non-sales career better-suited to your level of personal accountability.