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The #1 Reason Salespeople Fail

Recently on LinkedIn, over 150 Sales + Marketing Executives shared their views on the #1 reason for failure in sales. Several things really struck me from the conversation to date. Learning’s gotten little air time. Nor has better coaching. The need for it. The lack of it. See for yourself in this ‘satellite image’ of the discussion:

I believe this discussion is proof that we may be doomed to unending failures in sales until our approach to sales performance changes. I favor sales environments which hone craftsmanship. Environments that give sales people with the moral will to do the right thing and the skill with which to figure out what it is. Environments that ignite sales people’s passions with personalized learning. Environments that encourage sales people to take an entrepreneurial bent to tackling challenges they face. Environments where perfected practices become creative habits. Where sales people are constantly escaping their ruts and finding their groove, and having fun doing both. In these environments, sales people often fail. But when sales people are constantly learning + honing their craftsmanship, they themselves are *never* failures.

The #1 reason sales people fail, in my opinion? Too little feedback on what’s working + what isn’t, based on the verifiable buyer actions triggered from sales efforts. Without such feedback, there’s too little learning on the front lines of sales. Without learning, it’s hard to fix mistakes. It’s tough to find your groove. The fun of the craft gets lost in a fog of repeated, unexplained, failures. It’s time to demand better of ourselves. We can, and must, do better.

This entry was posted in Change management, Craftsmanship, Curiosity, Fun, Process, Return on Effort, Sales coaching. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The #1 Reason Salespeople Fail

  1. Todd Spare says:

    I agree. After 40 years in the field, my greatest sales management contribution was making joint sales calls and preping and debriefing along with some in-house training. I actually saw the reps grow. For my money, sales management is a field assignment, not an office job.

  2. Andrew Rudin says:

    John: when I heard John Hagel speak recently about his new book, “From Push to Pull,” http://www.johnhagel.com/view20051015.shtml, he spoke about the economic costs when employees lack passion about what they do. It’s unfortunate in any worker, but fatal in sales. You underscore some of what he said.

    There’s no reason that a sales organization should be a stultifying place to work, but they often are. It’s unacceptable that in any company, drive, ambition, and zeal should be stifled, and that intelligent risk-taking should be punished. Yet, if you read many online questions about sales management, they’re framed in ways that are truly condescending: “How do you get salespeople to . . . ”

    To you point, embrace learning and risk-taking. You won’t solve all of your selling challenges, but you’ll encourage behaviors that will enable your salespeople and your organization to achieve great things.

    • John says:

      Andy: Thxs. I’m a big fan of the points made in Hagel’s book around how small moves, smartly made, set big things in motion. The smaller the moves, and the faster you can make them with impact, the lower the risks in trying. IMO, it’s not just learning that matters in seeding passion + risk taking; it’s the speed with which it can occur.

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