salespeople-fighting#4 Salespeople Who Fight for the Wrong Deal

As fourth in a series, I will discuss today another one of the five most common complaints about the sales team.  Today’s article is focused on those salespeople who try to get every deal done and fight for the ones that don’t fit.  I hear this complaint frequently and sometimes it even ends up with the sales manager or president just giving in and letting the salesperson do the deal, even when it isn’t the kind of business they really want.  Then there is frustration about the salesperson and the time they waste fighting for the wrong deals.  I have known business owners who acquiesce to the point that they end up with a salesperson selling business they don’t really want, and then praising the salesperson for how good he or she is at the job.

There are three primary reasons why some salespeople fight for the deals they want but that might not be right for the company.

  1. They don’t have enough in their pipeline and it seems harder to go get new, good deals than it is to fight for the old lame deals.
  2. They are comfortable doing things a certain way and have an unwillingness to change.  I call this a lack of commitment, meaning an inability to do whatever is necessary within ethical boundaries to do the job the right way.  They are unwilling to get outside their comfort zone, so they just keep banging their heads against the wall because it is more comfortable than learning a new skill and feeling vulnerable about that new skill.
  3. They have a high need for approval, which means they have a difficult time pushing back on a prospect or even being upfront with a prospect for fear they will lose the deal or fall out of good graces with the prospect.  Therefore, they come begging and pleading on behalf of the prospect.  They don’t manage the prospects or customers very well.

So, how to fix it?

  1.  If they have a weak pipeline, that may be a reflection on you and your efforts to hold them accountable to a healthy pipeline.  Are you evaluating their pipelines on an individual basis and on a routine frequent basis?  You should be probing about deals on the pipeline, and why they are in the stage they are.  Are they fully qualified, based on the criteria established for standard customers?  Make sure they don’t have fluffy pipelines full of crap deals that you don’t want, before they get to the point of making a proposal to a prospect.
  2. If they have a lack of commitment, and they exhibit an unwillingness or inability to focus on the right deals but continue to focus on the comfortable deals for them, you may need to consider redeployment.  They will not change easily, and their success will be hindered because of this lack of commitment to doing everything possible to excel.  They will fight you.  They will make excuses as to why they need to do business their way.  They will be a pain.
  3. Those individuals that have a difficult time managing their prospects and customers can change, but it can be a very long process.  You will need to be extra diligent about pre-briefing their sales calls, debriefing those calls and helping to specifically plan out what they might say in certain instances.  I would suggest massive amounts of role playing so they can get comfortable saying the words that might not be that comfortable.  Get them to seek your approval and approval from others.  Make sure to build up their self-esteem so they aren’t dependent on prospects and customers to feel good about themselves.  Help them feel the impact of being respected as opposed to being liked.  Remember it can take months of intense work, but this problem can be helped.

Hope this helps you more effectively manage the sales team. If you would like to read more about effective sales management, take a look at The 5 Essentials of Effective Sales Management eBook. Share your results with me at