MMM-Your Salesperson Just Won’t Change!

We’ve all had them-the sales reps who won’t accept any other selling approach but their own. You have just spent several tens of thousands of dollars on sales development for your salespeople. Your sales managers in the field have spent countless hours making sales calls with the reps, reinforcing the training and working diligently to develop the rep’s skills. And yet, there are a couple of field salespeople who won’t make the change to the new sales process. Other reps have and the sales have climbed throughout the company. What do you do with the people who won’t use the new system?

Like practically everything else in life there is no hard and fast, black and white answer to the last question. Here are the variables. The reps:

  1. Who aren’t using the new system are still increasing sales at a rate comparable to the company’s growth.
  2. Who are not changing are a small (under 5%) portion of all reps.
  3. Seem to have a style/personality/manner that works in their geographical culture.
  4. Have been in sales a long, long time and they are pros.
  5. Comply with other corporate strategies; they are not lone rangers.
  6. Customers praise these reps to the sky.

Fortunately sales managers do not live in a world where one size fits all. Yes, I did say fortunately. There are times when managers try too hard to force square pegs into round holes. You have to wonder how many sales managers have tried to force feed training or a sales technique down the throat of a salesperson who has already proven that they know how to sell! What’s the point? Smart salespeople never turn down any training because they know they will learn something. It may not be earth shaking knowledge but it will have some value, if nothing else than it will complement what they already do.

The rule of thumb is-be smart about what is mandatory and what isn’t. For less experienced salespeople the sales training has to be mandatory-no questions asked. They need a process whereas the greybeard may already have a process that works. If the issue is forecasting for the ensuing fiscal year then there is no negotiating-everyone has to do it. Forecasting dictates manufacturing levels, hiring, marketing plans etc. Regardless of experience every rep has to forecast.

Smart managers manage different people and different situations with an eye toward common sense and productivity. At times a good leader has to say “this is the way it’s going to be-period”! Other times a good leader will prescribe different actions for different people.

Of course there is a caveat! If you have a salesperson that fashions him or her self as a pro but in effect, their ego writes checks that their brain can’t cash, then it’s time to take this character down a peg. You make exceptions based on experience, execution and prior success.  

The Final Thought: There are 193 species of monkeys and apes. 192 of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self proclaimed Homo Sapiens. Desmond Morris.


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