There is no better way to discourage your sales force from selling than to fail to deliver on their promises.
Why Your Sales Force Quit Selling
Your sales force has to believe in what they sell. They have to believe that their promises will be kept. They have made commitments to your dream clients, and they have given their word. Now it isn’t only your company’s good name on the line; it is also their professional reputation that is at stake.
So once they have made the sale—and all of the promises that go with it—the commitments have to be kept and the organization needs to execute and deliver. While it may be the salesperson’s job to sell inside, to build the relationships that they need to get things done, sometimes it isn’t enough.
Your role as the sales leader means working the organization on their behalf. You are higher up the organizational chart, you have relationships with your peers throughout the organization, and you are the person with the greatest ability to ensure that the promises your sales force makes are kept.
If you won’t sell for them within your own organization, they won’t sell for you outside your organization. You can’t afford to have them stop selling, and they can’t afford to have their promises broken.
What Your Sales Person Feels
No one wants to be thought of as a liar, but in sales, when the currency you trade in is honesty, integrity, and trust, you can’t afford to be thought of as dishonest.
When the promises they made aren’t kept because of operational issues and challenges, because the product wasn’t ready for prime time, or because the implementation team wasn’t on their game, the salesperson feels like they lied (even if they didn’t), they feel the frustration of failing their dream client (one they promised an a better future and a better outcome), and they believe that they can’t afford to make more promises that won’t be kept. Their emotions, as would be expected, run a bit hot.
They lose their confidence. Then, they stop selling.
They stop selling so that they don’t have to make any more promises that might not be kept.
Your job as the sales leader is to help them get their promises kept, so they can go back out and make more promises knowing that they will be kept, and that you will do everything in your power to make sure that they are.
Not Absolved of Responsibility (A Note to the Salesperson)
You, dear salesperson, are not absolved of your responsibility here, far from it.
It is your job to succeed for your dream client, regardless of what that entails. You need to go inside and sell up and down your own organization. You may need to help your team execute on your promises, you may need to renegotiate commitments and mitigate the damages, and you may need to make some calls and do some jobs for which you have no formal responsibility and no training. So be it—get it done.
One thing you cannot do under any circumstances is to disappear. When the train comes off the tracks (and inevitably, from time to time the trains do come off the tracks), you have to be standing right next to your dream client helping them achieve the outcomes your promised.
Anything less than that and you will appear to be dishonest and unconcerned (two things that you cannot afford to be).
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