Sales Management Issue: How Do You Motivate A Lazy Salesperson? Part 2

Earlier this week I wrote about one of the issues that every sales manager faces-motivating a salesperson that is either lazy or has poor work habits. It’s possible that some reps have never learned the right way to work a territory or to work productively. Statistically it is possible but, from this ancient mariner’s eyes, I would say that the number of reps who never learned to work a territory are minuscule. There are too many books, blog sites, coaches, peers and good sales managers available to help people.

So what do you do with a bonafide lazy salesperson? The “benefit of the doubt” will serve most sales managers well-up to a point. The first thing I always do in these situations is sit down with a rep one on one and away from the office. Having a beer is not a bad idea! Why not. I’m not talking a world class drunk here, just a few beers to get a person loosened up. I wouldn’t start right in on the main issue either. Work up to it by talking about specific accounts in the rep’s territory, something going on at the office, family etc.

This is an approach that will work out 90% of the time. I will say to the rep something like this. ” Jim, I like to sit down with reps in a more casual setting and give them what I call an “off the record” summary of my observations about them. Are you game”? Several things happen here. One, the reps knows that you are not going to do this just with them. The word casual indicates that the rep is not going to get a major league reaming. The phrase “off the record” means that the comments probably won’t make it on the more formal review.

I’m going to come back to this topic next week but I want to leave you with this thought. Way too many managers think that they can salvage a salesperson no matter what his or her issues are. I’ve done it and so have most managers. Do not get trapped into the “hero mentality” where you think that with a little more effort you can bring a rep back from the brink of hell. It won’t work and the effort will sap you of energy.

The Final Thought: ā€œA little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.ā€ Elbert Hubbard


One thought on “Sales Management Issue: How Do You Motivate A Lazy Salesperson? Part 2

  1. Dear Tom,

    I appreciate your site. Thank you for your insights and guidance.
    All the more important in the midst of the financial crisis, when there’s a lot of bashing and cynicism towards performance recognition and inspirational efforts in the workplace. Just check any bar in lower Manhattan! It’s a shame.

    As a VP leading over 100 salespeople, I’ve found that the hard fact
    is that QUALITY performance recognition works. Not just for morale,
    but in dollars. I have been using a couple of different tools for retaining good people and bringing in the larger sales figures. A#1 is Design Your Inspiration ( ), intelligent, customizable with any words or great quotes you want to use. Framed art photography prints.

    Again, the quality of these, and the MEANING emparted makes them
    highly effective for me. So while the cynics shed tears in their beers,
    we’re laughing all the way to the bank! Thanks again. Jim

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