Never let your salespeople drive to work together.
Sales is one of the toughest jobs out there. We are talking flaming-bamboos-shoots-under-your-nails-while-watching-a-Teletubbies-marathon kind of tough. This is due to the constant rejection that all salespeople must face on a daily basis. Even at the best of firms, we all receive more No’s than Yes’s, and that is not to mention all the objections and hurtles that we must overcome along the way to an eventual sale.
It takes immense strength to deal on par with top executives. In fact, that strength is the entry fee necessary for any executive to know that it is worth their time to take your meeting. So, just keeping the confidence necessary to face the day can be a challenge for salespeople. And yet, we must do what it takes to steel our resolve and get out there in front of the market to present our wares. Every morning, we must don our suits and go into battle.
Given the onslaught that any salesperson is likely to encounter, it is imperative that they do what they can to maintain the right state of mind. Now, we don’t mean that they must get overly pumped or cultivate some artificial persona or fake killer instinct in order to bully people into sales through pressure tactics. This won’t work in the long run. We simply mean that they must keep their head in the game. And a little positivity now and then can help to counteract the natural negativity that a salesperson will run into through the day.
There are many ways to help a salesperson to do this… routines, rituals, solid time management, and of course, getting the right marketing and pre-sales work done for him so that he can focus on the main task at hand. We believe in breaking the sales process down to its smallest parts so that each step can be managed (and trained for and compensated for) specifically.
The surest way NOT to help is to let people dwell on the negatives. Think about it this way, salespeople deal with hardship all day long and so it is quite easy for even the most well-meant conversations between them to veer to the negative. Most conversations will devolve into discussions of all the things that could be making the sales job impossible, and this only serves as a negative reinforcement. In other words, if somebody has a bad day and chats about, and the whole team can have a bad day. A bad attitude can destroy all of the resolve, confidence and focus needed to do a brutally hard job.
Even if a salesperson gets a sale, which is positive for her individually, bragging about it around the water cooler can hurt the rest of the team’s chances for success. Many salespeople also feel it is in their self-interest to have all the other salespeople do more poorly than they do so they look better. This is, in fact, not true, but try explaining that to the rep who is just a few sales away from winning your sales contest.
So, we need to stop the complaining before it starts. For instance, don’t let your sales team drive to work together. Think about it: have you ever been really happy on an early drive to work? After all, we all hate Mondays, and that fuzzy time before coffee has been ingested is ripe for negativity to flourish. And a bad morning can ruin a whole day’s productivity. So, do what you can to limit this type of interaction, as the negatives definitely outweigh any potential positives.
Not to sound draconian, but it would actually be nice if salespeople didn’t really ever talk much to each other. This is of course impossible (after all, you hired those salespeople to be professional communicators), but it’s not a horrible goal. While duct tape might help here, that too would likely be counterproductive. But do what you can to limit and to structure such conversations. Separate your sales teams geographically, encourage them to work from home (if you have the right self-management systems in place to make this work), and keep them busy with fresh leads and meetings delivered all of the time. And do whatever you can to keep things positive. This is the armor that your teams needs to go to battle and survive.