Eleven Reasons Sales Rock Stars Aren’t Clamoring to Join Your Company


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If someone offered my friendly two-year-old dog a box of crayons and asked her to draw a self-portrait, she would render a menacing image. A fearsome animal with sharp fangs, long claws, and wild untamed eyes.

Though lovable to humans, my dog fancies herself a high-order predator, having sent cats and squirrels skittering high into trees, rabbits and chipmunks diving into safe protective burrows, and deer running for their lives. The question is, if she ever caught something, would she know what to do next?

Companies face a similar conundrum. Managers devote slavish attention to discovering traits that portend rock star sales performance. But bringing the big game on board isn’t so simple.

Traits of successful salespeople—I found 143,000 results just now online, and plucked three representative articles from the cornucopia of content: Desirable Skills You Want in Your New Hires, Thirteen Traits of an Outstanding Salesperson, Five Attributes of Top Sales Producers. In this economy, talented sales pros should be lined up at your door, ready to knock down some awesome revenue targets. But where are they? Maybe they saw these red flags, and bolted toward the next big opportunity.

1. High sales force churn. Sure, churn happens, but if your number exceeds 20%, that’s not a positive story. Excessive churn points to poor hiring decisions, unfulfilled expectations, and poor morale.

2. CEO’s or Sales VP’s with a reputation for frequent shouting tirades. Toddler tantrums are never pleasant, but when they’re from adults, the habit quickly gets old.

3. A commission plan that’s unwritten, not formulated, or “being worked on.” When it comes to compensation, top performers are blunt: “show me the opportunity to make a high income—in black and white.”

4. Forecasts that aren’t grounded in fact. If you’re projecting OTE (On-Target Earnings) of $300,000, but don’t already have salespeople earning that amount, the number is theoretical.

5. Inflated promises. “We have no competitors.” Top producers know better.

6. A CEO with a record as a serial company destroyer. As Gerry Cullen describes in his excellent book, The Coldest Call—Why Some Good Products Don’t Sell, “each company these CEO’s worked for died an untimely death. Not quick, merciful deaths, but Enron-style deaths, where hundreds or thousands of workers were left exhausted, unemployed or angry.”

7. A top sales or marketing officer who is not well respected within the organization, or a culture that disdains sales. “Do you need resources from Engineering to close that deal? Call me in a year.”

8. Inconsistent versions about what the company produces or does. Begs the question, “does this company really know what business they are in?”

9. A sustained history of unresolved customer complaints. Few things make it harder to sell than ongoing customer woes. And they’re emblematic of other problems, including a lack of customer centricity.

10. Lack of transparency. A company should not attempt to hide any issue that is too big to be concealed, like litigation against former employees, customers, and channel partners.

11. No history of developing careers. Many people mistakenly assume money alone motivates top sales performers. Money is toward the top, but it’s not the only item on the list. As Mike Myatt wrote in an article, Why You’re Not a Leader, “true leadership is about helping people reach places they didn’t know they could go.”

While there are plenty of salespeople, top producers are a rare breed, to be treated differently. They not only look for winning opportunities, they seek organizations with similarly successful, talented, and motivated people. If your best candidates are running for cover even before the first interview, it might not be about the money. Check the buzz about your company to learn if there’s something else that’s scaring them away.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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