Sales managers scratch their heads. “Right from the start, I was so sure Carl would be a top performer. I would have put money on it. But before I knew it, he crashed and burned.”
It’s an old story, and one that often ends with the same words: “I wasn’t cut out for sales.” Maybe. But probably not. Poor training, inadequate support, and unrealistic expectations can each play a role in disappointing results.
Even so, what causes potentially good salespeople to fail has little or nothing to do with poor sales skills. The real harm is self-inflicted. Salespeople can sabotage themselves. Here are 14 ways that unnsuccessful salespeople tend to wreck their careers:
1. Tell a customer they will take care of something and then don’t do it. Why worry about it? It’s nothing an “I’m sorry,” a little schmoozing, a bouquet of flowers, or a gift card can’t correct. Anyway, it wasn’t that important. That’s not how customers see it. Their actions reveal the truth of who they are.
2. See themselves as special. The “salesperson’s disease” is catching. It’s transmitted by rubbing shoulders with other salespeople. The major symptom is the belief that they’re the reason for the company’s success so that gives them permission to break the rules, and to look down on everyone else. Oh, yes, the disease is fatal.
3. Puff up their record. No salesperson needs to take a course in “The Fine Art of Amplification.” Whether it’s with customers, each other or the boss, exaggeration comes naturally for too many salespeople. And, then, they come to believe their own baloney.
Avoid these behaviors if you hope to success in insurance sales. (Photo: iStock)
4. Avoid asking for help. Many salespeople see themselves as operating on their own, beholden to no one, and totally responsible for their destiny. And that includes asking for help, which they view as a sign of weakness and something they can’t live with—even when it costs them customers.
See also: How to get out of a sales slump
5. Criticize but don’t contribute. You know these salespeople, they’re quick to tell you what’s wrong in every part of the company: why revenues are down, what’s wrong with the product line, or who in management should be dumped. Yet, when asked to contribute their ideas or make suggestions, they have nothing to say. Such behavior pushes them out the door.
6. Do enough to get by. They’re guided by some preset internal gauge that sets strict limits, letting them go only so far before banging on the brakes. These are outliers to be sure. They’re ignored when there’s a crisis or unexpected crunch. In a word, they’re superfluous to the company’s success.