Destroying Your Sales ForceA great and reliable sales force is difficult to build. It can take years to find the right mix of professionals that will serve you and your customers. But all of the time spent building your sales force, can be destroyed in a matter of moments.

Most of you might argue that sales people are a dime a dozen, and they are, but great sales people are not. The sales people that go above and beyond for you, your company, and the customer, are sometimes irreplaceable, because of the relationships they’ve built with their (your) clients.

But rest assured if you’re taking part in any of these foolish actions you are wrecking your sales force.

1. Set unattainable sales quotas for your sales force.

Everyone knows that your sales force has to hit sales goals or sales quota in order to increase the revenue coming in the front door. However, problems begin to arise when the quotas are not being hit by anyone in the sales force. But what really burns your sales force is when at yearly review or yearly meeting; management says something along the lines of “the goals we are setting this year are much more realistic.” The first thing that pops into any intelligent sales person’s head is “I missed my bonuses last year and it wasn’t because I failed to perform it was because the sales quota that was I given was unrealistic.”

I’m guessing you have a lot of intelligent sales people on your sales force. Now take the time to ask yourself the following question. “Was the extra money my company saved last year on bonus or commission payouts worth the loss of employee morale or even key employee’s?”

2. Promise them a huge bonus when they hit their sales quota, but then fail to pay them.

What I’m referring to isn’t a Christmas Bonus, it’s when your sales force is promised the moon if they hit their sales quota for specific period of time. However, after the sales quota or sales goal is hit, the company fails to payout.

Your sales force brings up the failure of payment a couple of times in the following weeks or months, but management comes up with some sort of excuse about the budget. Soon, your sales stops asking and management thinks they got away with it. Well, I’ve got news for you, your sales force hasn’t forgotten; they just lost all trust in you, the company, and its management team.

3. Treat them like mushrooms.

Mushroom Management is best described as keeping your sales force in the dark, feeding them crap, and hoping they grow.

Many companies fall victim to this sort of management, because management doesn’t believe in open lines of communications. Oh yeah, they may talk about it, but they don’t practice it.

If decisions are being made that are affecting your sales force and customer service they should be communicated to them. Information hoarding isn’t good for anyone, anywhere in your organization.

4. Manage by fear.

This and number 3 can go hand and hand, but I thought I would separate them for you, because you can still manage by fear and not treat your employees like mushrooms.

Some examples of managing by fear are:

  1. All management cares about and talks about is numbers, numbers, numbers and not solutions for ongoing problems.
  2. All decisions regarding sales are made in secret and not openly discussed.
  3. The sales force doesn’t trust any of their fellow employees anymore.
  4. People who are getting promoted or recognized (yes men) are usually the least qualified or knowledgeable.
  5. Questions are encouraged, but are never answered.

5. Tell your sales force they are the best, but pay them less.

Unemployment is at all times highs in most major metropolitan areas and the overall economy is sputtering at the moment. So, some companies are taking advantage of their sales force’s compensation packages. Management knows the job market is tough and no one in the industry is hiring at the moment. Knowing the sales force doesn’t have an opportunity to get a job with the competitors; management takes advantage of them and pays them less.

6. Everything is ‘not’ the sales force’s fault.

Sales people make poor decisions all the time and somewhere along the line, those decisions may come back to bite them or the company in the ass. I’m not here to pontificate to you that sales people aren’t at fault for some of those decisions. The issue that I have is when leadership or management blames everything on the sales force, because somehow, no one else can be at fault.

There are legitimate issues with a product or service that a sales force cannot control; quality, marketing, delivery, pricing, and a host of other things. Sales are critical to the survival of almost any organization, but so is having a product or service that sells. If you fail at the marketing aspect of your product, don’t blame your sales force for your shortcomings.

All of the above actions may work in the short term, but be prepared for lack of employee moral and a mass exodus of your great sales people when other employment opportunities present themselves.

What are some of the actions that you have seen or taken part of that have contributed to the destruction of a sales force?

Photo credit: x-ray delta one

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