There are a few issues that seem to be present in all sales forces. Those common problems are the best argument for taking special care in your process of evaluating sales candidates.
Some people just aren’t wired to be salespeople. There’s no cure for this. Even though they force themselves to act like salespeople, somehow they’re embarrassed. Maybe their parents didn’t trust salespeople.
These uncomfortable salespeople just don’t see themselves as having something useful or valuable to offer customers. They’re embarrassed to ask questions and feel they’re intruding or prying.
This is a hard-wiring problem and no amount of sales training can overcome it. People can force themselves to make sales calls, but they’ll never perform as well as you need them to perform.
A wiring problem
Some people just aren’t wired to be salespeople.
There’s no cure for this.
It’s like forcing someone to go snowboarding. If they’re really scared, or just don’t like it, they’ll only be going through the motions. Do you have salespeople like this? It’s time to recognize it and do something about it.
Many salespeople are insecure about their relationships with their customers. They keep secrets — mostly about what they don’t know about them. They’re concerned that their company will intrude on their relationships, will make their clients nervous, blame them for the problems or will try to sell them something they don’t want.
These salespeople are scared to ask the kinds of questions that will build a more constructive relationship with their customers. They don’t believe in the value of what they can offer clients, so they confine themselves to questions that are equivalent to asking: “Do you have anything for me to quote on today?”
When salespeople are insecure, they take what they’re given. They never get around to creating a broader (and more secure) relationship. Sadly, their accounts are at greater risk, because the salespeople are missing opportunities to provide added value for their customers. They make themselves (and your company) into just another me-too competitor.
More and more companies are engaging in genuine collaborations with their clients. And that may require deploying a lot more technical savvy and creativity than a lone salesperson might be able to offer.
Clients always think it’s terrific to connect with people who can serve as added resources. But such collaborative efforts may feel threatening to some salespeople, who will feel less in control of their accounts.
All of this salesperson discomfort is usually accompanied by a good deal of avoidance and a fair amount of arm-waving — all designed to hide their underlying anxiety.
This avoidance on the salespeople’s part often reflects a mistake made long ago in the hiring process. You need to keep this from being a permanent problem.
Many salespeople are unwilling or unable to deal with problems (especially problems they’ve caused). Misunderstandings pop up, order details are wrong, or things just fall between the cracks. Scheduling crises arise because the salesperson may not have told the customer the whole truth about timing. And misunderstandings arise on pricing because the salesperson avoided dealing with the issue.
The list of recurring problems is long. But all of them stem from an unwillingness or inability to face problems.
Selling is hard enough without permitting problems like these to remain a permanent part of your managerial challenges. It’s time to move forward in dealing with your salespeople more effectively.