Why Sales Reps Don’t Sell More

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s an article I wrote a couple of years ago exploring the reasons why sales professionals don’t sell as much as their managers want them to.

I thought you might find it interesting!


“Why Sales Representatives Don’t Sell More”

Are your sales representatives selling as much as you’d like? There are only two answers to that question —and BOTH can signal grave danger ahead.

If you said “YES” – or if ANY of your sales management team members even THINK the answer is “YES” – then, on behalf of the shareholders of your company, “PLEASE RESIGN, you are NOT doing the job.”

The central task of every manager is to entertain a healthy DIS-satisfaction for things the way they are — to follow and foster the belief that nothing IS or EVER WILL BE good enough and instill that belief in every individual in their charge. The capabilities of your team members — and the capacity of your company — are far from tapped out – and your job is to seek out, identify, develop and exploit those capabilities in pushing the limits of that capacity to greater and greater levels. You know you’re on the right track when your sales representatives say, “No matter how much I sell you always want more!”

If you said “NO” you can keep your job – but there’s still a serious problem.

In fact, if your sales representatives aren’t meeting the numbers you need them to meet, then one or a combination of the following five scenarios is the cause:

1) There’s something wrong with your product or service.

If there is something wrong with your product or service, you obviously need to figure out what it is and fix it. Unfortunately, between now and the time things are repaired, a great deal of unproductive tension will rise both inside and outside of your company. It is of paramount importance that while this is going on, your sales representatives diligently monitor and manage the level of productive tension experienced by everyone impacted by the problem. Add to this the extreme challenge of managing their own levels of productive tension and you have a recipe for disaster. If your customers, prospects, sales representatives and internal staff are ALL too far UpGrid to function productively, your sales results WILL come to a screeching halt.

2) There’s something wrong with your marketplace.

Regardless of whether the challenge is increased competition, a depressed economy, seasonal slumps, a community crisis or any one of countless factors impacting your marketplace there is STILL abundant opportunity for businesses to thrive IF the sales representatives understand that this is an issue of tension management. In these situations, the productive tension your prospects and customers had previously experienced is subordinated by the unproductive tension they’re experiencing about the current state of the marketplace. If your sales representatives don’t know how to reduce that unproductive tension and increase productive tension regarding your products or services, no one will be buying or selling anything.

3) There’s something wrong with your industry.

As was the case with the marketplace, problems with your entire industry present a similar challenge and require the same approach in remedying the situation. Technology? Legislation? Scandal? War? These situations are just a fraction of the things that can and will happen — and all of them have a detrimental impact on everyone’s level of productive tension. To combat the chaos and stop your business from becoming part of the collateral damage, your sales representatives must master the art of tension management.

4) There’s something wrong with your sales representatives.

If there’s something wrong with your sales representatives, then one or both of two things is true: they CAN’T sell and/or they WON’T sell. If the problem is one of ABILITY, you need to take a serious look at four things: knowledge, sales skills, professional experience and support resources. Do they need to understand more about your products and services and the needs within the marketplace? Are the sales skills they’ve been taught truly effective or have they abandoned the training they received? Do they lack experience in dealing with the client situations they encounter? Do they have access to the support they need to do what they’re expected to do? If the problem is one of WILLINGNESS, you need to identify the source of their resistance. Is the problem a lack of desire? Are emotions of anger and fear stopping them? Is there an effective accountability system in place?

5) There’s something wrong with your sales managers.

As was the case with your sales representatives, if there’s something wrong with your sales managers, then one or both of two things is true: they CAN’T manage and/or they WON’T manage.

More often than not, the problem here is one of ability. The vast majority of sales managers have never received any formal training in management, so they lack skills. That in turn makes the sales representatives question the value of their manager, so respect is compromised.

The worst of all scenarios, though is the sales manager who WON’T do what they were hired to do — and while the prognosis is poor, you must still identify the source of their resistance in order to prevent the same scenario from happening again. Is it a matter of burnout? Unrealistic expectations? A lack of support? Or have they lost faith in their upper management team? What’s the remedy?

Once you’ve identified why your sales representatives aren’t selling more, the answer will be a combination of sales and leadership skills training. No matter what challenges a company faces, skills training is the cornerstone of the solution. The only thing that will fix a bad economy is SALES and the only thing that will prevent another bad economy is LEADERSHIP.


If any of you would be interested in learning some of the skills we teach in the MasterStream Management program, let me know and I’ll put it in the schedule for the Gold Team ongoing educational webinars.



2 Responses to Why Sales Reps Don’t Sell More

  1. G Sairamesh says:

    Selling is a very dynamic profession wherein every selling organization is attempting to differentiate and sell. The differentiation needs emerge as a result of the discerning customers. This obviously leads the vending organizations to attempt to make changes to their products as to capture the wallet share. Consequently, I expect sales managers to be continuously outgrid or upgrid because they know their customer life cycle is short.

    Customers are like a butterflies who are continuously on the look out for benefits. I would be surprised if any manager express satisfaction, should they than I’d imagine it is only for the present moment and not for the immediate future.

    Good point T.

    Rgds – Sai

  2. Ajai Singh says:

    My understanding is that most sales people are really trying to commodotize selling rather than really understanding the customers needs and then positioning their product in the most appropriate manner that they fit the customers needs.

    There is no short cut to sales if it is going to be a long term proposition.

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