Why I Love Lazy Sales People!


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I love lazy sales people! Actually, let me clarify, I love lazy sales people who consistently achieve their goals and objectives. Every organization has one or two of them, we know how to recognize them. They’re the folks that never seem to be in a hurry, they seem to have time on their hands. When management announces a new initiative, they probably whine and complain—but just the appropriate amount. They may occasionally blow off internal meetings, they may not do all the reporting that’s asked of them, they may do the minimum to skate by. They certainly never volunteer for that extra assignment.

But somehow, year in year out, they achieve their goals and objectives. They may not blow away the numbers, but they always find a way to make them. It’s a mystery, it frustrates managers–”Why can’t I get them to work hard?”, and their peers scratch their heads saying, “How do they do it?”

And that’s why I love them! How do they do it? It’s the key question and one of the clues to sales performance management.

See lazy sales people who consistently make their goals, have distilled things to the essence. They have a process that enables them to achieve their goals. They’ve determined just what they need to do to achieve their goals, eliminating all the stuff that doesn’t make sense. Sure they blow off some reports, but they know they can get away with it because management really doesn’t pay attention to the reports. Sure they take some short cuts here and there, but they know what’s critical to getting the job done. They know how to work with customers, not wasting their time on things that don’t matter, doing only what’s necessary to get the order.

Lazy sales people who make their goals don’t waste time and don’t let others waste their time. Lazy sales people give us the best clues to building efficiency and effectiveness in our sales organizations. They focus on those things that really matter. Somehow, when we don’t look at what they do, we have a tendency of making things too complicated. We toss in all sorts of stuff that seems nice, that may even seem important. High performing, very busy sales people are great sources of insight, but sometimes they just tend to muscle through things. They may not be the most efficient, but through long hours and dedication, they do well. We can learn a lot from these people, but I think we really can learn a lot from successful lazy sales people.

No, we don’t want to model all their behaviors, we don’t want them to be role models. As role models, people will get the lazy part down, but not the “meet goals and objectives” part down. The things that lazy sales people tell us is what’s really important in the job. Not only how to execute the sales process most efficiently, but also how to respond to all the other things expected of sales people. They focus on doing the things that matter. As we try to simplify and get to those things that have the greatest impact on our sales results, these lazy sales people give us the best insights. It’s provides a great starting point, but not the complete answer.

Some of you might be saying, “Dave, I hear you, but they’re lazy, they could do so much more! We have to stop them from being lazy.” I agree, but this is pretty easy, all you do is raise the bar–set higher goals and objectives. They’ll always figure out a way to achieve the goals–not dramatically over perform, but just barely achieve the goals.

Some of you might say, but Dave, these people really aren’t lazy–they’re just smart. I absolutely agree, you have to be very smart and very good to be a successful lazy sales person. We can learn a lot from them.

Are you leveraging the lazy sales people in your organization?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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