Throughout writing this column, I have always focused on great salespeople—their characteristics, what it takes to find them, and how to incentivize them and keep them motivated, happy, inspired, and passionate about what they do.
However, one of my clients asked me an interesting question the other day: “Who do I avoid? It seems I keep hiring lousy salespeople. They look good when I hire them, but after a while, they turn into duds. How do I keep from doing this?”
I have to admit, I thought it was a silly question at first, but it has been two weeks since then, and I can’t get it out of my mind. After some careful consideration, I realized I can usually tell a poor salesperson when I meet one; it has always been one of my strengths. But how do I know?
Thus, I started compiling a list of the characteristics of a poor salesperson, and I realized that not all of them are obvious. There are as many subtle traits as there are obvious ones. In the end, I decided to list what would make the proverbial worst salesperson on earth.
Without further ado, the world’s worst salesperson:
1. Won’t visit customers:
- before 10:00 a.m. because it’s too early in the day
- after 2:00 p.m. because it’s too late in the day
- until new literature and pristine product samples arrive
- until the website is updated
- because they need to make sure the product is built correctly and delivered on time
2. Won’t call customers:
- in the summer because “they don’t want to see me or hear from me”
- until the current buyer retires
- because they can either call or work on reports, but not both
3. Can’t get any business because:
- everyone buys online now
- of China
- of Wall Street
- school is out of (or back in) session
- Halloween to New Year’s is slow
- of sporting events (World Series, World Cup, Super Bowl, etc.)
- the company for having high prices or bad product that nobody wants to buy
- the buyers for not buying
- the times, such as not being able to schedule meetings because no one wants to talk or meet anymore
- new sales programs because they won’t work and are a waste of time
- to ask for the order because they do not want to look like a peddler
- that if the company only offered [insert whatever it is they don’t offer], they would be successful
- that every buyer is on the take, and that they cannot make any progress because they are too honest
- she can’t make her sales numbers because she’s “a woman in a man’s world,” and she has the unfair disadvantage of being a woman
- he can’t make his sale numbers because the buyers want to see cute women and not men, and he has the unfair disadvantage of being a man
7. Claims that:
- reading books about sales is a waste of time
- trade shows never work
- the customer relationship management (CRM) software isn’t good, and they are not going to get anywhere until they get the same software at their old company
- they’re a technical consulting salesperson, and it is below them to ask for the order
- the only way they can get business from that large account is to play golf with the buyer
8. Talks the most in sales meetings
If you meet a salesperson who says or does even three of these things, run for the hills because I guarantee that he is not going to work out. He might not be the worst salesperson in the world, but he won’t be one of the best.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.