Recognizing and Reducing Non-Productive Behavior21 Apr, 2004 By: Michael Berman imageSource
Recognizing and Reducing Non-Productive Behavior
Nick Warnock, the copier salesman on "The
Apprentice" television show, has raised the profile of copier sales. Although he
has become a sympathetic figure for many, I am somewhat troubled by his
self-congratulatory side exemplified by his biography in which he writes,
"There's no account I can't penetrate, and no client I can't close."
In my line of work in which I help underperforming
companies rapidly improve their top and bottom line revenue performance and
sustain the level of growth¾I've
worked with far too many excellent companies that allowed themselves to be
brought to the brink of disaster by a variety of negative behaviors in their
sales force. For instance, even when salespeople like Warnock produce results, a
self-serving approach to sales is ultimately bad for any organization. I'd like
to introduce a number of the more insidious traits that undermine even the most
vigorous attempts to build high-performance sales teams. While there are a lot
of great salespeople in the industry, there are also many different types of
salespeople who exude traits and characteristics that are not favorable to an
The list below offers ten totally different types
of salespeople you may want to keep an eye out for. Consider these early warning
signs, that if left uncorrected, could lead to real sales trouble.
1. The Martyr.
Fortunately this person is not shy about telling everyone how much (s)he does
for the company. After all, if not for personal heroics, or the fact that their
customers love them so the company would have lost business a long time ago due
to the gross incompetence of everyone else that has ever touched a customer.
2. The Prophet.
While this person might not be very good with the past or present, (s)he has a
wonderful gift for seeing the future with alarming clarity. In fact, the reason
why this person hasn't made budget in recent history is because nobody listened
to previous suggestions about what the company could do better. If you've got a
prophet on your staff give that person exactly what he wants…just once. The
results won't change much, but everything else will.
3. The Historian.
Never one to shoot down a good idea, this veteran salesperson has an obligation
to let you know that whatever you're suggesting now was tried before and didn't
work. Sure, the historian will allow you to try it again, but (s)he will work
behind the scenes to block any progress. This is done for the sheer pleasure of
the "I told you so" moment.
4. I've Got an Eye for an I.
As the saying goes, “no sum, no matter how significant it is, is ever greater
than the whole.” All too often, sales management rewards bad behavior of
salespeople who put up numbers by allowing them to skirt policies, rules and
company protocol. By blurring the line of standards it becomes impossible to
build a high-performance organization. And, with only the rarest of exceptions,
what goes up does come down. "Eyes for I" are always the ugliest terminations.
5. The Critic.
This individual would much prefer to be right instead of good. Although (s)he
needs no provocation to point out corporate, peer and management shortcomings, (s)he
has a very brittle ego. Consequently, efforts to manage this person most closely
6. The Expert.
If only you understood the market/the territory/the customer/the industry like
this person did you'd know why the request you just made, or the question you
just asked, was stupid. The only way to overcome these knee-jerk defenses is to
take the time to become as great an expert as this person is by
experiencing it firsthand. This, of course, will never happen as the “Expert”
will always be one up on you.
7. The Sociologist.
This type of salesperson is a fountain full of suggestions for
improving the culture, arranging team outings and otherwise looking to "make the
office more fun so we can be more productive" Way too focused on internal
matters, the “Sociologist” often lacks in selling to and properly supporting
8. The Alarmist.
Not only does your company do everything wrong, but the “Alarmist” has it on
good authority that the competition is invincible. They can keep the sky from
falling by engaging in lose-win business relationships. Although management has
to appreciate this person's passion, be wary of the emotion.
9. The Prince(ss).
Great sales performers must be self-confident, but the worst salespeople tend to
be those who take themselves oh-so-seriously that confidence gives way to
arrogance. Pay particular attention to someone's first few hours and days on the
job. If (s)he isn't energized and engaged in every phase of the new environment,
count on it only getting worse.
10. The Validator.
There are two sure-fire ways of spotting this individual. First, nothing is too
trivial to report in an email and second, everybody with a title gets included
on an email. The “Validator” wants to make electronic eavesdroppers out of every
manager, VP and executive. Beware of the smokescreen, as this person tends to
favor style over substance.
By no means is this list complete. I'd love to get
your nominations for other types of behaviors that must be reduced or removed in
order to build truly high performance sales teams. Send suggestions to me at
our next article look for behaviors we want to have copied!
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Michael A. Berman is a partner at CPath Solutions
LLC, a professional services firm providing outsourced executive leadership for
companies in the launch or improve stages of their business cycle. CPath is a
New York City based company and can be reached at
www.cpathsolutions.com or by calling