I read a magazine article this week in which the author described underperforming salespeople as “losers.” There was a time when I might have used similar language. I’ve heard some well known voices in the sales community use similar language.
But underperforming salespeople are not losers; they’re just underperforming.
A lot of the time, the underperforming salesperson is in the wrong role. They are no more a loser than the hiring manager who put the underperforming salesperson in that role. They both may have made a mistake, the hiring manager by not recognizing that the person might not be a good fit or hiring out of desperation, and the non-salesperson for taking the wrong job.
Lack Training and Coaching
Some underperforming salespeople haven’t received any real training or development. They’ve never had good coaching. The organization that fails to deliver these things isn’t made up of a bunch of losers either. The organizations that fail these underperforming salespeople are stretched thin to provide all of the support their salespeople need, and most place too many internal burdens on their sales managers, eliminating time to help their sales force improve.
Salespeople who fail often have poor leaders, and in the worst of cases, no leader. That doesn’t make them a loser, and it doesn’t mean their leader is a loser either. It means both could use some help. Many in sales management roles didn’t have a good model as a leader when they sold. They’re mostly doing what they’ve had done to them, whether that be micromanaging, focusing exclusively on activity, or plain neglect.
When people hear you use words like “loser” to describe people with performance issues, they believe that you will be as judgmental when they have performance issues (worse still if you write it). It indicates that you believe that 100% of the blame lies with the underperforming “salesperson,” which is occasionally true.
Using negative words to identify a poor-performing individual is a personal attack. These words betray a lack of respect. They destroy trust and moral authority.
Notice this cat in the picture above has the L on backwards. That’s sometimes true.