A Hidden Weakness that Makes Salespeople Procrastinate

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 15, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

perfectionYesterday, I was on three separate calls with sales managers whose salespeople needed to fill their pipelines, but hadn't.  They needed those salespeople to schedule meetings, but they weren't doing it.  They needed those salespeople to make calls, but they wouldn't make them.  They needed to get those salespeople moving, but those salespeople were stuck.  

For the salespeople, it was their own doing.  Self-imposed.  And they knew it!

Would you like to know which mysterious, hidden weakness was holding them hostage, preventing them from taking the action they knew was crucial to their success?  Of course you would.

All of them were perfectionists.  You may be wondering what could be wrong with that?

When it comes to salespeople doing something they haven't done before, everything is wrong with that.  A perfectionist must do things perfectly and if ever there was a sales activity that was ripe for imperfection, it would be the prospecting call.  After all, a new salesperson might have to speak with 10 or more prospects to schedule one meeting or call.  And in their perfectionist minds, that would be 9 failures.

So they procrastinate.  And they'll continue to procrastinate until they are certain that they can get it right.  Make it perfect.  And the more they prepare, rehearse, wordsmith and prepare some more, the worse they'll be.  It won't sound like a conversation, they won't sound real, but they will sound like a telemarketer reading from a script and nobody will want to speak with them.  They will fail.  It's a catch-22.

So what can you do?

If you're a sales manager, give these salespeople permission to fail.  Not only permission, insist on it.  Force them to get someone to say "no" to them and praise them for their effort, remind them that they lived to tell about it and ask them what they learned from it.

If you're a salesperson, give yourself permission to fail.  But even more than that, remember this:

If you make the worst prospecting call in the history of selling, who, other than you, will even know about it?  The chances that a prospect will remember you are in direct disproportion to how bad you were!  The worse you are, the less you'll be remembered.


Image Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, call reluctance, cold calls, empty pipeline, procrastination, perfection, sales under achievement

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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