Are your salespeople lazy? Or is it your communication?
“I HAVE LAZY SALESPEOPLE. THEY NEVER WANT TO WORK,” THEY SAY. “A LARGE MAJORITY WANT TO SIT AROUND, WASTING TIME ON THEIR PHONES PLAY AND PUT IN THE BARE MINIMUM EFFORT. IT’S RIDICULOUS!” SOUND FAMILIAR?
I’ve met a lot of sales managers, sales leaders, and intelligent CEOs convinced their sales teams are made of lazy salespeople, usually describing this scene to me:
“I have lazy salespeople. They never want to work,” they say. “A large majority want to sit around, wasting time on their phones play and put in the bare minimum effort. It’s ridiculous!”
Or, they will describe one particular salesperson to me in detail only to summarise them as a “typical time waster” or “not having a killer instinct.”
Here’s the deal. Even if your sales team is lazy, calling them out will not change them. You’re probably going to make things worse.
- Could there potentially be an alternative reason?
- What if they want to be successful?
- What are their natural work styles?
- Do they strategize, systematize, and genuinely understand your buyer’s business rather than just closing deals right away?
What’s more, before you blame your team, take a hard look at your sales leadership and sales process. When sales decrease or plateau, I have seen CEOs and sales leaders quickly blame the sales professionals for their own sales management mistakes.
But suppose your team is disengaged and unmotivated. You can do a few things to turn things around, and it starts with shifting your perspective on the problem.
Most sales teams are not lazy. Don’t get me wrong, in every company; you may have one or two lazy salespeople. And, even your most successful salesperson can fall back on lazy sales behaviors.
Remember, never underestimate a salesperson to cut corners or make an extra dollar, even smart salespeople.
However, you can protect against these foolish and lazy behaviors using an incentive-based compensation structure and a good sales process.
There is also a distinction between lazy and negative or disruptive salespeople, which is absolutely critical.
Negative and disruptive salespeople are often your weak salespeople who are not hitting their numbers.
Their insecurity and fear will quickly turn into negativity for you and your company.
Negativity is also toxic, and it will hurt a good employee even with a great attitude.
If I have a negative sales manager or sales rep on my team, I don’t see much point in keeping them around.
However, if most of your salespeople on your team are displaying lazy behaviors, that’s a symptom of a more endemic sales culture problem.
If your sales team is lazy, your sales team is likely bored, and your sales process and methods are inefficient.
Now that is a sales leadership issue.
Most salespeople and teams need three important things:
- Efficient processes
- Leadership and coaching
- Affective motivator (not always pay)
Your sales leader or VP of Sales is essentially your culture driver of the sales team. If something is wrong with your sales team’s culture, you start there.
If you want your salespeople to give you their best, it’s essential to showcase the very best — your sales leader.
Your sales leader needs to be your best seller, not just an average salesperson.
The sales leader is also your spearhead of coaching and development. It is vital for a successful partnership.
Your sales leader or VP of sales is essentially your culture driver of the sales team. If something is wrong with your sales team’s culture, you start there.
Very few people are motivated by money; it is no longer intrinsic.
Most sales professionals seek gratification and satisfaction from their work. So, provide coaching and more support for the entire sales team.
Also, remember, smart salespeople create opportunities for themselves utilizing their strengths which derive from different perspectives and personalities that need to sell in different ways.
As a sales leader, spend time with each of your sales reps, ensuring that any form of sales training is tailored and custom to them. They get value and find genuine alignment from the sales training to sales methods.
It should not be generic training that is not adaptable – you will effectively handicap your team.
TIGHT SALES PROCESS
Some businesses believe that lazy salespeople sell well because they stick to a tried-and-true sales process. They are committed and bought into the sales process.
However, while lazy salespeople are typically not your most weak salespeople, the sales rep’s decision to cut corners is distinguished by laziness.
You don’t want them doing that; that foolish behavior will eventually burn a client’s expectations and lose deals.
Your process should be buttoned up so tight with an obvious choreography. That’s not to say you restrict your salespeople, but give them the path that they can follow to success. Without that path, people spiral out of control and are ultimately unhappy.
Now, your process also needs to be vetted and legit. A bad implementation creates unnecessary work down the line.
Suppose your sales team sees an easier way to do their job; that’s what they’ll prioritize.
But, suppose they find a more efficient way to work smarter with a customer-focused buying process, ensure that you reward the team for thinking outside of the box, and see a more engaged and productive sales team with personal accountability.
SALES TEAM AFFECTIVE MOTIVATORS
It’s important to understand that money is not an intrinsic motivator.
Your pay structures should help to incentivize good behaviors and de-incentivize destructive behaviors outside of your sales process.
Their solution to increasing motivation for many sales leaders is paying sales representatives more. But, money is not an intrinsic motivator.
The intrinsic motivator could be stability, achievement, recognition, or freedom.
It could be a whole host of different things.
Understand why your team does what they do, and you will create a strong relationship and know the exact buttons to push to turn on the motivation gears.
The intrinsic motivator could be stability, achievement, recognition, or freedom. It could be a whole host of different things.
APPLY ACTION STEPS
I want to stress laziness amongst a sales team is often a symptom, not a personality defect of one salesperson.
There are several observable events and actionable steps:
- Evaluate your sales leader and how they deliver feedback to the team.
- Leverage your top-performing sales reps to understand better the situation and what motivates them. Get them engaged with the process early, and you’ll get new insights and a deeper understanding of what motivates your team for higher productivity.
- Access your sales process and methods.
Work styles and desires are essential to understand for each individual. So you can speak to them at a one-to-one level.
The structure is rarely the problem.
Instead, it would help if you kept such motivating factors, applied them in the right lens, and positioned each individual on your team.
That’s what will indeed allow your team to succeed without running any interference.
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About the author:
Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.
Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.
Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.