Tom’s Question for the Experts

Thank you for your participation on the last post. More on that later.

Tom Maloney asked a great question:

“Rick, should a sales superstar feel empathy for terrible salespeople? Or joy that this is their competition? Or annoyance that they have to deal with the negative effect that bad salespeople have on prospects? Or nothing?”

I answered:

“Tom, this is a much deeper question than I anticipated being asked, but it’s such a great question and with your permission, I’d like to answer it straight up! They are what they are. They believe what they believe. They want to be better or they do not. I, as most of you, meet salespeople every day that are successful or aren’t. That are skilled or aren’t. That are effective or not. Big picture? Who cares what I think? I’m one guy with a biased opinion. Tom, I’m gonna interrupt myself here and save this for another day. I want to call in the experts the way Dave did on his blog. Give me a little lee way here and I’ll get you some good answers.”

I’m sending this link out to experts around the globe to get their feedback. Let’s see what they say.

17 thoughts on “Tom’s Question for the Experts

  1. I think it depends on your role. Are you an individual contributor? If so, there may not be a lot you can do. But I think star salespeople have a duty to help weak salespeople.A lot also depends on the nature of the terrible behavior. Is he salvageable? Does he have a good attitude? Does he have strengths?

  2. I have to answer this question twice. Hat #1) Life Long Sales Guy: Give me all the incompetent, incapable, foolish, misguided, off-track, heavy-handed, present first and chase later salespeople and I don’t have any competition. Bring it on! Hat #2) Life Long Sales Development Expert – 74% of the sales population fits into the group I just described and I feel obligated to help them move from typical to exceptional. I can’t help it, that’s why I do what I do.

  3. The sales superstar shouldn’t give a damn about the other salespeople unless a prospect brings the issue up. At that point, the impact to the superstar from the prospect’s point of view can be identified and dealt with. This approach allows the superstar to maintain his/her superstar status in the prospect’s eye.

  4. Salespeople are a product of what they have been taught and to a much greater extent what they are “thinking”. By this I mean if a salesperson believes it is inappropriate to challenge a prospects buying process or ideas for the purpose of helping them, they almost always don’t. This unfortunately conditions prospects not to respect “salespeople” as a group. Good prospects want our advice and opinion but they need to be nudged and sometimes confronted on their own thoughts about the value of salespeople and their own short sighted opinions. As Rick says they, other salespeople, are what they are. To address this it is can be helpful to say something like, “I get the sense you haven’t had a good experience with salespeople and while I appreciate that based on my own experience should that get in the way of us talking about the real issues and determining whether I can help you”?

  5. I believe the true superstar is confident in their abilities should not worry or be concerned about weaker sales people getting in their way. It’s a waste of time and energy. The true superstar has the desire to be successful, committed to remain successful and will do what it takes within reason and most importantly will continue to improve to keep his or hers superstar status.I do believe that they should also give back. Nothing wrong with helping those who need and want help.As Dave Kurlan said earlier for those who are in the position to help, in their nature to do so, and it’s what we do , then we have that obligation.If feels good to help and see and hear the results for that given help

  6. You have to serve to sell – therefore, if you’re a pro, its hard to turn off the service mindset. Also, the best salesfolk are empathetic with their customers, and with other people too. If I see a situation like you describe, the teacher and human in me feels bad that the other guy will never reach their potential. And yes, pros in every field feel animosity towards less able people that bring their profession into disrepute. And, yes, its absolutely normal in some respects to be happy that this is all you have to compete with. The question isn’t so much how you feel, but just like in selling, its what you do. You can’t help anyone that is not reaching out for help. Its not your responsibility to fix him unless you’re his manager. You have no real responsibility otherwise, but if you have a personal connection with the guy, try to point him in the right direction. Just make sure you don’t get painted with the same brush.

  7. I don’t consider myself a sales expert, but i was asked to answer. So, I’ll just answer it straight up…. I’ve felt empathy, joy and annoyance at bad salespeople. I guess it depends whether they want help and whether I care about them enough to help them. If they do, I refer them to an expert.

  8. As many of our colleagues have eloquently answered the question, I can’t say there is much to add. However, I’d like to know why the question was asked in the frist place. Could it be this is a question to pontificate, or take a stance, or justify someones own feelings? Could it be just more sales retoric, or maybe we are all off base. Why the question posed in the first place is more important than any answer I could ever offer. Rocky

  9. You can not change other people only our reaction to those people. (SM) We make choices by how we respond to others. My guess is if you are succeeding then you understand what it takes – so enjoy the fact that you are winning. You are only responsible for yourself.”

  10. This question brings to my mind, two thoughts:1. I believe there are two types of sales people… sales professionals and sales amateurs. PROFESSIONALS are always looking for ways to improve their skills and knowledge, grow and risk! When I encounter that questioning individual, (and I’ve found some of them in 20+ years of Sales Force Development work; a much smaller number than you’d think) I would answer any question, render any opinion and nurture any wounds, to help them!The sales AMATEURS, (and there are more of them than one can count; in the sales growth arena, they are the sentees of the world) are looking for the silver bullet, the short-cut or the next great excuse (the economy is the most popular today). Those folks, and I hold some animosity for them, as they pollute the pond inhabited by the PROS, should not distract us from our appointed destiny. 2. My experience tells me that there are too many out there who ask much from us, but do little for themselves! To paraphrase: Help those who seek to help themselves! It’s not possible or practical to help everyone!

  11. I’m not in the business of helping salespeople become better salespeople. Instead I run an Information Technology Services company. So I don’t feel empathy when I encounter a lousy salesperson. Instead I get really frustrated and annoyed. It’s not my fault they are lousy; I’m not in a position to do anything about it, so they will just have to continue to suck. My frustration comes from the fact that I came to them for help. Instead of being my trusted advisor, they are making things harder and getting in my way. I can tell you right now, when I encounter a lousy salesperson, I consider it a HUGE reflection on the organization for which they work. It will not only stop ME from doing business with that organization, but I will make sure all my friends, family, customers and vendors know how lousy they are. I can think of at least two area car dealerships and electronic stores that I tell everyone I know to stay clear of. This is serious stuff. For all the organizations out there that have lousy sales people, my advice is to FIX IT. Talk to Rick. Talk to Dave. But just get it fixed, because if you don’t, your biggest problem won’t be low productivity from the lousy salesperson….it will be the missed opportunity and probable negative references of all the prospective customers your organization could have had. -Paul P.S… I’m no sales expert either, but I’m probably better than most now thanks to these guys.

  12. Paul,Thank you on behalf of all of us for such a glowing recommendation. I couldn’t have said it better or more succinctly myself. I’ll be sharing your comments with everybody here at our daily huddle at 4 PM.

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