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The Dark Side of Sales


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Can you think of any other profession that is more self-loathing than sales? 


I can’t.


Yes, we’ve made great strides in recognizing that sales is about helping and serving. But I’ve noticed several persistent patterns that come from the Dark Side of Sales.


1. Throwing sales teams under the bus for poor results.


There are two overarching root causes for the team’s poor results:


a.     Misaligned GTM strategy or planning which should come before sales teams are deployed.


b.     Lack of sales training and/or coaching. Asking the team to crank up the frenzied activity won’t create better results if the team lacks an effective sales framework. 


Solution: get clear on the root cause of their performance. Outside perspective can be extremely helpful here. So is the willingness to be vulnerable.


2. Implying that sales frameworks don’t apply to conversations with sales leaders. I’ve been in discovery with sales leaders whose teams are in real trouble. When I ask them questions or suggest decision criteria based on their problems, I’ve had some say with a smirk, “Ah, I see what you’re doing here!” - as if I were employing trickery.


Root cause of this issue: sales pros have unconsciously decided that sales is witchcraft unless it’s their team doing the selling.


Solution: I own it proudly. “Yes, in fact this is your live demonstration of the Gap Selling framework. My intention here is to help you make the best decision that will address your sales team’s challenges – regardless of whether you do business with us or not.”


3.     Treating salespeople disrespectfully for the “crime” of being in sales. Unless we’re talking about relentless timeshare sales or emotionally manipulative approaches, everyone deserves respect and kindness. Always.


Root cause of the disrespect: a general thinking that salespeople will put up with anything to get a sale. Which is often true, unfortunately. We show others how we deserve to be treated. Which means it’s up to us to raise the bar.


Solution: Respond to disrespect head-on. There’s never a justified reason for it. Firmly but respectfully call it out in one of the following ways:


a. If they’re dismissive: “Can we pause for a minute here? I’m sensing we may not be a fit to work together. Am I off-base?” This may prompt them to course-correct.


b. If they’re rushed and distracted: “I’m sensing you’re crunched for time today. Let’s reschedule for a time that works better for you.”


c. If they’re down-right rude: “It sounds like we should probably wrap this up so we can both get on with our day. Thank you for your time.”


Now – I’m curious to hear from you. What else would you add here? What other solutions would you offer for the Dark Side of Sales?



"The Dark Side of Sales"

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