Stop Complaining and Start Making a Difference

If you go out and look for them, it’s easy to find all the things that your company does wrong. You can also easily discover every little thing that your company might be able to do better to improve. It’s wrong to complain to your peers (and anyone else who will listen) about why your company isn’t as great as you wish it were (despite the obvious incongruence of you telling your dream clients something altogether different).

Negativity and complaining destroy organizations and do nothing to improve your sales results. If you believe that there are serious problems that need to be addressed, you are obligated to do more than complain.

Only Up, Never Down

It is never right to complain to your peer group or anyone outside of your department. The only direction you should share your complaints is up. Negativity is the only form of cancer that spreads by contact, and you must not be the carrier; it’s a recipe for failure.

Your concerns need to flow up stream towards the top. If your concerns are real, you are obligated to share them with your manager. You need to make your manager aware of the problems, aware of the costs of the continued problems, and what you believe can and must be done about them.

This is all part of selling inside your own organization.

How to Complain

No one wants to hear you complain, except maybe the incurably miserable. Nor do they want to hear you bitch and moan about why your company isn’t what you think it should be. It’s not helpful, and it’s not professional. If you are an employee, if you work for the company, it’s your duty to try to improve things.

First, you have to identify what you believe is wrong. Second, you have to identify why it is a problem and what it is costing your company. And finally, you have to share your proposal as to what might be changed and how it would improve things. If you recognize a problem, you have to help identify the solution.

Doesn’t that sound remarkably like what we in sales do both for and with our clients?

It sounds like this: “I have noticed that our clients are reporting that we haven’t been communicating with them about their orders as frequently as they would like us to. I asked some of them to share their thoughts with me, and they said our lack of follow up makes it difficult for them to do their jobs. They said that they need us to improve it. We really can’t afford to lose these clients, and customer intimacy and follow up are real differentiators for us—ones that we can’t afford to lose. I did some investigating, and the biggest issue is communication early in the morning. We could eliminate this problem if we shifted a couple people’s hours forward to take those calls. Could we schedule a meeting with the department head to propose changes?”

It’s that, or it’s something less than that: “We suck. We’re not calling our clients back like we need to. Someone needs fired. I can’t sell if they don’t do their jobs. I am not going to sell anything until someone fixes this.” Yeah, that’ll really get things done, now won’t it?

This kind of statement lacks what makes the first version effective. It doesn’t really describe the problem. It doesn’t explain why it’s a problem and what it costs, and it offers nothing as a solution except the salesperson’s lame and empty threat to stop selling.

It does nothing to help make a difference, and the maker of the statement isn’t taken serious. They simply look like a complainer, a whiner.

No one was hired to complain. You were hired to make a difference for your company and your clients. You make a difference when you help solve problems, not when you make them worse by commiserating with others and spreading negativity.


What is your duty to your company when you notice an area that needs to be improved?

What normally becomes of people who complain and take no action?

What are the best and most effective ways to surface the areas that need to be improved with your management? How about with the manager of another function?

How important to your sales results is your ability to make a difference within your own company?

How do you make the internal proposals and sell you improvement ideas inside your own organization?

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Filed under: Sales

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