8 Problems That Don’t Age Well

Problems don’t age well. You are always better off dealign with them directly and dispatching them as quickly as possible. You pay a high price for avoiding each of these.

Deadbeat Clients: There are two kinds of clients who routinely avoid paying their bills: those who lack the ability to pay and those who lack the willingness to pay. The second type is often a big company that believes that they need to stretch all of their vendors as a way to hold their cash. For deadbeat clients in both categories, if you don’t deal with this problem early on, you will always struggle to get paid.

Operational Problems You Solve: You want to be a team player, and I also want you to help your team. So when you see your operations team struggling, you might think you should jump in and help them by doing their job for them. But that’s exactly how you get yourself in trouble. When you do their job for them, two things happen. First, no one feels like they have to make a change in operations, in part because you always bail them out. Second, no one is going to return the favor and do your work for you. Don’t believe me? Try asking your ops team to make cold calls for you.

Too Few Opportunities in Your Pipeline: So, you’ve fallen behind. You’ve allowed yourself to be distracted, and you haven’t picked up the phone for so long that it barely remembers your name. Once you fall off your pace, it’s incredibly difficult to build the pipeline you should have built months earlier. The sooner you pick up the phone and start scheduling the meetings you need, the faster you can restore the health of your pipeline. The longer it takes you to act, the worse things become.

Unaddressed Lack of Competency: You are not good at some competency that is incredibly important to your role. You haven’t done the work to get better and you have been too timid to bring up the fact that you need help, believing that your manager will somehow think less of you. The truth is that continuing to fail isn’t going impress your manager either—and it’s likely to make things worse. What would impress them is your self-awareness and your firm commitment to get better, as shown by asking for help and coaching.

Right Person, Wrong Role: You might be a really good person, one who can create great value, only to find yourself in a role for which you are not suited. You are not happy in the role, and you realize that your previous enthusiasm to give it the old college try was misguided at best. Your misery will continue until you ask to be considered for another role, the one where you can do a better job. If you are the manager in this scenario, by the way, you are not innocent either. Noticing someone struggling means you should help them with the training and development they need, perhaps by finding them a place where their contribution will be valuable to your organization.

A Bad Attitude: Nothing good comes from a bad attitude. Nothing. Cynicism isn’t just a bad look: it does nothing to improve things, and despite various sitcoms, it’s not actually useful for creating rock star results and outcomes. The thing about negative people is that they don’t believe they are negative; they believe that they are “realists,” which just means they don’t want to be defined by their bad attitude. Your poor results and your propensity to repel positive people will continue until you decide to change your attitude, something that you can do with a little work.

Avoiding Accountability: The one thing that will cause you to irrevocably lose your relationship with a client is avoiding accountability for the outcomes for which you are responsible, especially if you are the one that sold them. Once you’ve established the fact that you are not going to take responsibility for the challenges your client is struggling with, you have lost the client, even though it might be a little while before they inform you.

Telling the Client What They Want to Hear: You might want to win your client’s business by telling them only what they want to hear. You are always better off telling them the truth, even when the truth is that they’re delusional and are never going to get what they want in the way they want it—or that their baby is so ugly that even dressing it up and putting a cute hat on it doesn’t make it tolerable for more than a few seconds. Before you run off and insult your prospective clients, though, let me remind you that you need all the diplomacy of a younger, better-looking Henry Kissinger. As Churchill put it, diplomacy is telling someone to go to Hell and them looking forward to the trip. Here’s the point: once you promise your client something you can’t deliver, they will believe you lied to win their business. Instead, be so good at selling that you can tell them the truth.

Problems don’t age well. If you’ve got one of these problems (or one like it), do the work to dispatch it now. They don’t get better by being left unaddressed.

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