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Why Sales People Fail — 

Having a quality sales force in place is essential to the success of most businesses. As with most employees, there are always a few employees who just don't fit the position they are attempting to fill. And in some cases, people who are a good fit can fail as well depending on the circumstances. But why do sales people fail? We believe that these are the primary reasons:

  • Poor job fit. The person is just not cut out to sell.
  • Poor management. Since sales managers are responsible for hiring, training and overseeing sales people, it is logical that they would have a significant influence on a sales rep's career. More often than not, sales managers do a poor job of hiring people who are cut out to sell. Just because a person is outgoing does not mean that person will be a good sales rep.
  • Laziness. Selling requires hard work and long hours. Some people just are not willing to put in the time necessary to travel, complete paper work, plan, follow up on problems and issues and develop relationships. Field sales reps working less than, say, 60 hours per week are probably not going to be highly effective. Many sales reps work 60 to 70 hour weeks. Most poor sales reps put in far fewer hours. There are excpetions to this, but not many. Selling is hard work and requires long hours to do it right.
  • A short-term mentality. Sales reps who view sales as a way to put a lot of money in their pockets in a hurry tend to have short-lived careers in any given organization. Why? Because they view the customer as a cash machine that they can tap quickly and at whatever cost is necessary. This type of approach leads to weak or no relationships with customers. A long-term, relationship-oriented approach is far better. The rep's income over the short-term might not be as significant, but over the long-haul is much better.
  • Lack of follow-up and service orientation. Sales rep's who leave customers hanging when there is a problem or a question lose credibility with their customer base. Good sales reps are highly customer-oriented and service-oriented. They bend over backwards to take care of their customers even if it means working longer hours and fighting a number of battles to get things done.
  • Focusing on customers they are most comfortable with. Sales reps sometimes are fearful of working new or lesser relationships to the extent they need to be worked. They often gravitate toward customers they have a strong relationship with. However, some of those customers might not buy much. They just like to chat and make the rep feel good about the posibility of buying something.
  • Having no plan. Sales reps need a plan each and every day. This plan should be priority-driven and should guide the rep as much as possible.
  • Lack of organization skills. A good sales rep is organized and deals with details. There is a school of thought that good reps are not detail-oriented. That can be true in some cases, but if the rep is not detail-oriented, he/she must work harder to deal with the important details.
  • Inability to multi-task. Sales reps are required to deal with a number of issues at the same time. Some people can't handle the pressure of this type of work.
  • Poor training. Sales reps need excellent product training and sales training. A rep needs to understand how your business operates and how to sell your products or services.
  • Bad support from the company. In some companies, the reps do a good job, but the company fails. Processes are slow and inefficient. Customer service people don't support them well. Shipments are slow and inaccurate. The list goes on and on. Even a good sales rep can fail if the company fails them. It is important for a rep to know the company's deficiencies so that he/she will not over-promise and under-deliver.

There are some of the key reasons why sales reps fail. How do your reps stack up against this list? How well does your company support your reps?

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