The seven signs of sales team complacency - and four reasons it happens

6th Sep 2012

Are your sales team stuck in status quo? In this article, leading sales expert Andy Preston explains the problems that ’status quo’ can have, and what to do to make sure your team don’t fall into that common trap.

It’s always interesting when I’m working with salespeople and sales teams all over the world when I start talking about status quo and complacency. They can be the biggest reasons for lost potential sales in experienced salespeople, yet are often overlooked by sales management.
So why do so many experienced salespeople fall into this trap? Here are four of the main reasons:

Reason number one: No pressure from management

Now you might find it a bit strange as some salespeople will say their sales manager never gets off their back, yet most sales managers tend to focus on the underperformers, and spend less and less of their time on the top performers.
I’ve even heard some sales managers say “I don’t care what they’re doing if they’re hitting target”. Whilst that attitude might be fine for them, I dread to think how many more sales their team could be getting in with proper management!

Reason number two: No personal goals

If you’ve been to one of my events, or heard me speak at an ISMM Seminar or the main conference, Successful Selling, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of salespeople having personal goals.
Often in my experience however, salespeople tend not to set personal goals, or even if they do, they tend to have them as a ‘wish list’ or a ‘hope list’ rather than a ‘must have’ list.

Reason number three: No challenge from colleagues

Another reason salespeople get complacent is if they’ve been top performer for a while, and there are no colleagues close to challenging them! This happened to me in my sales career when at one point I was actually selling twice as much as my nearest challenger.
That’s a dangerous situation to be in.  Experience tells me that for some salespeople, without the challenge of colleagues for top spot, they often end up just doing what they need to do to retain their position, and not focusing on how they can sell even more than they currently are. Which means they’ll limit themselves from selling more until they get a close challenge from another colleague – and they’ll suddenly find that ‘extra gear’ – that they had all along, but didn’t need to use it.

Reason number four: They’re tired and jaded

This is often found in salespeople that have been in a company for a while, or in an industry for a while – particularly if their role hasn’t progressed much in that time.
Because they’ve been seeing the same customers and prospects for a while, talking about the same products and services to the same people, the monotony of that activity shows up in their attitude towards pushing themselves to the next level.
Unless these salespeople find a way to get more energy and interest back into their job role, they’ll just ‘amble’ along until something shakes them out of that state – usually losing a customer or the threat of losing their job.  My preference is to get them out of this state before either of those two happen.

Seven signs to look out for 

So what are the signs you need to look out for, to see if you’ve got any salespeople with any of these challenges?
  1. You have one top performer that brings in a lot of business, without a close challenger.
  2. You’ve had a number of salespeople that have been in a similar role for a while now.
  3. The same prospect names appear during the ‘pipeline’ discussions at your sales team meetings.
  4. You pay a high basic salary and your sales team don’t seem hugely motivated to win new business.
  5. Some of your sales team don’t respond well to your questions and have an ‘I know what I’m doing’ mentality.
  6. Your sales team have more experience in the company (or the industry) than you have.
  7. Your salespeople try to divert the conversation from ‘prospects’ and ‘new business’ to how busy they are with existing clients or paperwork.
Follow the tips above and watch the performance of your sales team soar! I look forward to hearing about your future success.

Andy Preston is a sales training and cold call selling expert.

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By David Evans
28th Sep 2012 12:35

 It is important to put together a team of sales professionals that are all capable of high performance so that complacency is not an issue. Sales is a very competitive field and sales professionals can feel as if they will be lost in a crowd if their numbers do not stay up there. 


Dave Evans, commercial director at accessplanit, specialist in learning management software and training registration software

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