Sales reps: Learn to love ’em

learn to love sales reps

Dear Thea,

I recently attended a conference where you spoke about sales reps, and you mentioned how much you have learned to love them. I respectfully have to disagree with you. In my opinion, sales reps are all the same. They are all about the sale, they think all they are responsible for and worried about are their sales numbers and commissions. I have learned from them as well, mostly that they are all self-centered and cut from the same cloth. Not expecting or looking for an answer from you, just had to share my views.

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 Signed,

Another point of view from Pensacola

 

Dear Another point,

Well I can certainly understand why you did not include your company name and instead used a g-mail address to send that chipper email. If your sales team knew who you were, upon reading that they may decide to string you up and beat you like a piñata at a kid’s party. You could have saved yourself some time; my guess is they already are very aware of how you feel, which would explain why your viewpoint never improves.

And what, pray tell, would ever make you believe that I would not respond? Sending me that email and telling me I didn’t have to respond is like slapping someone and expecting them not to slap you back. Kind of a Captain Obvious moment.

I love sales reps. Without them, I (and many like me) would not have a job. Not only a job, but a job that I truly love. Sales reps have given me a career that entertains me, educates me, enlightens me, provides me with an endless supply of work and therefore lifelong career security. What a beautiful thing.

But enough about me, let’s get back to your dark, cold and lonely view of sales reps. My best guess, dear Pensacola, is that you were the kid that was bullied and picked last for dodge ball. You have to put this situation in context. If business were like high school here is how this would play out: Sales is the all-star football team, marketing is the cheer squad, credit is the band, billing is the geek patrol and you, well you are just outside looking in on it all—by choice! You could easily join any of those groups and participate in the fun.

If that is truly how you see your sales reps, then you have two choices: get a job where you do not interact with sales, or change how you approach them.

I am taking a leap and assume you are actually in credit since you never actually said what seat on the proverbial bus you occupy.

Despite your email, I believe there is hope for you. You have been approaching this all wrong so let’s hit the reset button on your view of the world of the sales rep. Let’s take a Zen approach. Close your eyes. Clear your mind. Picture unicorns and rainbows. Now repeat the following:

  • Don’t give advice unless asked (difficult but it can be done).
  • Leave the sales meeting if you have nothing productive to say.
  • Focus on what you are bringing to the table instead of on what you think “they should be doing.”
  • Let them experience their own choice (a well-placed “you saw that going better didn’t you” puts a nice bow on that when the time is right).
  • Stop focusing on their behaviors. Focus on your own.
  • Remove yourself from a situation before it becomes unsafe—for either of you.
  • Don’t nag them about their responsibilities.
  • Only help when asked.
  • Compliment what they are doing well.
  • Let yourself enjoy the entertainment.

And finally—lighten up. Have some fun with them. After all, we are not saving lives, we are selling products or services. Dig deep, bury that self-righteous indignation and invite your least favorite sales rep to lunch and find the serenity. Go ahead, get dessert. Everyone knows sales always pays.

 

With more than 30 years of credit management experience in the LBM industry, Thea Dudley consults with companies on a wide range of credit and financial management issues. Contact Thea at theadudley@charter.net.

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