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Boiler rooms suck. Wall Street sucks. Chest pounding macho sales floors suck. It didn’t used to be perceived that way though.
As we come around to a better understanding of creating inclusive sales floors and removing barriers to entry to allow for more diversity in the profession, we have to recognize a few relics of the past that need to change.
Let’s start with practices that most folks in sales and leadership agree need to go right now. The hope here is that naming some of the most obvious and toxic sales practices still too common in the workforce will further expedite their extinction.
Well tell me something I don’t already know. Can we push the envelope here and dig a bit deeper? What about some practices that we know exist – just “not at our org.”
Here are some “elephant in the room” sales practices. These are things that are commonplace wherever you go, but nobody is either willing to admit or accept that they too are part of the problem. These are the things “secretly” killing your sales org because leadership is the only area of the business NOT talking about them.
Let’s dive deeper into each one of these.
My good friend and sales leader Kevin Dorsey talks about what it’s like “being the only.” There are far too few POC in Sales leadership roles, as well as too few women in these roles. We find convenient excuses like “I can’t seem to find anybody” or “They need just a bit more experience first.” Cut the crap and give people a chance, and make decisions to have diversity and go make it happen.
While dying off, these sales floors are not yet extinct. You must live with your company’s Glassdoor page and local reputation very publicly these days. Protect your reputation. People need the training, tools and time required to be successful in their roles. I can assure you, this is longer than two weeks. So invest in your team and set them up for success.
The lack of transparency that is often involved in these negotiations or pitches to recruit folks is rubbish. You have a responsibility as a leader to make sure your employees are educated. Do not assume anything is common sense or that they will research it on their own. There are many layers to this toxic onion. But the fact that most employees don’t realize they have 90 days to exercise if they leave before an exit [and most cannot afford to do so] is outrageous.
Do we need to change the comp plan 3-4x in year one? What about changing it 1x per year – is that really necessary? Stop squeezing every nickel you can find out of the paychecks of the folks putting dimes into your coffers. Clawbacks when it wasn’t a sales issue. Delayed commission checks due to payroll errors. Inaccurate commission checks that require reps to double check payroll’s work. You will lose a salesperson with Usain Bolt-like speed if you mess with their money.
These have to go. High stress jobs create highly stressed employees. Why not just allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open up and talk about this stuff. Instead lets find new and creative ways to support conversations and employees.
Failure to solve and actively address some of the antiquated sales practices is a surefire road to creating a sales culture nobody wants to work in. You will struggle with recruiting as word gets around town about what it’s like to work there. Morale will drop lower and lower as the team tunes out and loses motivation. You will have unhappy and unhealthy employees, pissed off at both the comp and the culture you have created. What comes next? You will have costly rep churn and performance will drop off a cliff.
You don’t want that.
These old practices may have had their time and place, but sales has changed. Not only do these antiquated practices not fit into the modern workplace, they have been replaced with techniques that deliver happier employees, and better results. The modern worker is no longer willing to tolerate employers who treat staff this way, because time and again it is proven that engaging and treating employees with respect makes a company more successful.
What you do want is a sales environment that is:
If you build that, not only will they come, but they will stay for a long time.
Scott Leese has spent his entire career building and scaling sales orgs at SaaS companies, wrote a bestselling book “Addicted to the Process”, is currently the CEO/Founder of Scott Leese consulting and the Founder of the Surf and Sales Summit. You can find out more over on LinkedIn.
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