Breaking Trust with Sales Reps25

broken chain

As companies find ways to deal with the economy, many are turning to lay-offs, and as sales professionals we see many of our peers included in the process. What is worth noting is how the organizations are dealing with those that remain.

Many companies are adjusting expectations and goals for reps. Some however are not communicating these new targets to the reps. The thinking is that if the reps continue to work with the old targets, they may still fall short of original goals but exceed the revised targets. The thinking some have told me is that if they were to announce the revised targets, reps would ease up and the new targets may be missed as a result.

I think there may be some who would validate this, but for the most part I think sales people are a goal oriented group who want to succeed rather than just make due. I think this strategy also opens the door to a loss of trust in the long run. Assuming they end the year somewhere between the old and revised targets, the initial impact may be positive, a sense of relief, a monetary reward, and all the upside of making quota. However, it will set a precedent for distrust. After all if the reps were made to believe and work under one set of facts that did not represent the truth, how will they judge future discussions with management.

The challenge is that most successful sales organization attain success through interdependence, a reliance on everybody in the chain and process doing their part to deliver collective success. If in fact one is only weak as its weakest link, the erosion of trust created by the process described above can only serve to undermine this.

Those that are open in their communications and fully involve the sales reps will not only stand better during the downturn, but will be in a much better position to take advantage of a turnaround when it comes. Those that use tricks and don’t share openly may see a short term win, but a long term risk. When numbers turn down and the trick doesn’t work any more; more especially when things do improve and talented reps will have options and take.

Sales is a team sport, in both up and down markets, as sales leaders we need to ensure the team is on side and is ready to win.

Sell well,
Tibor Shanto – The Pipeline

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25 Comments

  1. Skip Anderson | Sales Trainer

    “Those that are open in their communications and fully involve the sales reps will not only stand better during the downturn, but will be in a much better position to take advantage of a turnaround when it comes. Those that use tricks and don’t share openly may see a short term win, but a long term risk. When numbers turn down and the trick doesn’t work any more; more especially when things do improve and talented reps will have options and take.”

    - You are right on the money, Tibor.

    Skip

  2. Alex Todd

    I have lived through bait and switch sales incentives and can tell you they are poisonous both to the sales force and customers. Sales reps will be demoralized for the following cycle and won’t perform as well, and the excessive pressure they put on customers will weaken their relationships for future sales. Moreover, the tone from the top will flow through the sales reps to the customers and further damage customer relationships and the company’s reputation beyond any given performance measurement cycle.

  3. Sales Pipeline Management

    Hi – Just stumbled across your site and have enjoyed looking through it. I’ll be coming back soon for another look. Keep up the great work.

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