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7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Salespeople

February 13th, 2014


The majority of Salespeople are simply not good.   Most private business owners and sales managers would agree.   A huge percentage of salespeople do not consistently achieve desired results, and most consistently fall far short of their goals. 

Despite the fact that most owners tend to tolerate sales mediocrity and hang on to weak salespeople way too long, over 50% of sales representatives hired today will not last one year in their company.  

The statistics are overwhelming.  Mediocrity in sales is rampant.  And there is good reason.  Most salespeople wound up in sales by default.  They did not study Sales in high school or pursue a degree in Sales in college.  Most employees in the profession of sales are there because they attempted other professions that didn’t work well for them, or because they couldn’t earn the type of income they desired doing what they originally intended to do.  As a consequence, good salespeople are difficult to find and ineffective ones are everywhere. 

Those rare, excellent salespeople are effective not due to their intellect or fancy techniques.   They simply have good habits, while the ineffective majority of salespeople have poor habits.  Here are seven of the most popular habits of highly ineffective salespeople:

1.   They are Reactive:  Effective salespeople are proactive.  Ineffective ones are not.  Good salespeople have a Sales Plan, a Success Recipe, and a tracking system to monitor their daily activities.  Poor salespeople spend most of their time reacting to urgencies and just about any distraction that happens to come along.

2.    They Don’t Respect Time:  There is no such thing as Time Management.  There is only Self-Management.  Ineffective salespeople lack self-discipline.  They do not effectively manage their activities and the way they spend their time.  As a result, most of the activities that are absolutely critical to their success (such as prospecting for new business) fall to the bottom of their priority list and often do not get accomplished. 

3.    They Don’t Enjoy Selling:  Effective salespeople understand that sales activities are highly varied.  Some aspects of selling, like preparing proposals, giving demos, leading presentations, and following up on hot leads or referrals might be considered to be fun.  Other aspects, such as cold calling, new business development, and other rejection-laden activities might be uncomfortable.   Great salespeople always do the uncomfortable activities, and they do them FIRST.  Ineffective salespeople choose to do the fun activities first.  Next, they do everything else (like customer service, “researching” the internet, taking any incoming call, processing emails during the selling day, talking with friends…).   At the end of the day (or week), they notice that there was “no time” to do the vital work of prospecting and new business development.   This habit is epidemic among weak salespeople. 

4.   They Don’t Listen:  Most people, including most sales executives, would agree that great salespeople spend the majority of their time listening, and listening carefully.  Unfortunately, theory and practice do not align here.  In reality, most salespeople (the weak majority) do not listen carefully.  In fact, many don’t listen at all!  Ineffective salespeople cannot wait to talk about themselves, their company, their industry knowledge, and how great they think they are.  They talk way too much and way too soon.  Another profit killer

5.   They Don’t employ a Process:  A Process (a series of steps that leads to a result) is efficient, measurable, improvable, and effective.  Every great salesperson uses a Sales Process.  Ineffective ones do not use a process.  Weak sales reps go into every new call or conversation winging it–hoping for the best and expecting the worst.   

6.   They Don’t have Control:  In the absence of a process, the ineffective sales rep grants control of his/her time, money and conversation to the buyer.  This results in a wide variety of time-wasters, including multiple proposals, plenty of worthless tap-dancing, and lots of wasted energy and resources.  Even if the rep happens to luck into a sale, their lack of effectiveness will cut deeply into their profit.

7.  They Choose Ineffectiveness:  This habit may be tricky to detect, because it often lies hidden from view.  Desire and Commitment are choices, and both are directly related to Trainability and Coachability.  Believe it or not, a very large percentage of ineffective salespeople are neither coachable nor trainable.  Many weak reps prefer to avoid, rather than embrace, training and coaching.  In other words, they do not treat their profession as a profession.  Again, there is probably good reason for this.  Despite the fact that effective salespeople often earn 10 times more money than weak ones, we are dealing with human beings here, many with large egos and very small comfort zones. 

Do your salespeople possess any of these ineffective habits?

If so, how much do you think it may be costing you, and what do you intend to do about it?

The majority of effectiveness in sales is not a result of intelligence, tactics, or tools, but is primarily a result of choices, attitudes, and habits.  Effective salespeople are simply willing to choose and commit to do the things that ineffective salespeople are not willing to do.

Continued Success,


Copyright ©   Joe Zente  2013.   All Rights Reserved.

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