Top 5 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Under Pressure

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

 AngryCoachBefore I unveil the top 5 mistakes, you might be interested to know that last week, Top Sales World Magazine went from monthly to weekly.  I was featured on the cover, but I'm most hopeful that everyone will read Jonathan Farrington's interview with me.  He got me to be very outspoken about what's taking place right now in our industry and I believe that everyone will benefit from reading it.  View it online here.  

Now for the Top 5 Mistakes.  At a recent baseball tournament, a panicked coach watched as a 12-year-old did not not run as hard as he possibly could to first base.  Despite that, he reached on an error and the coach screamed so that everyone could hear, "Get your butt out of your head."  He also told the boy that in the next inning, he would be on the bench for not hustling.

The coach had become emotional and in doing so, he clearly overreacted, got the well-known expression backward, embarrassed the kid, and embarrassed himself. 

There are some sales lessons here.  

Many salespeople panic and become emotional when they hear certain objections, get asked certain questions, or are told certain things.  When this happens, several things can occur:

  • They may be completely unable to use their words (you might encourage a 2-year-old to, "Use your words.")
  • They may say something stupid.
  • They may say something completely unrelated.
  • They may become defensive.
  • They may become offensive.

Regardless of the type of reaction, when panicked, salespeople tend to lose control of the sales call, while their prospects become less comfortable with the idea of doing business with them.

There are some sales management lessons here too.

When a sales manager perceives that a salesperson may not be putting in the desired effort or time, or may not be as focused, he may not be able to bench or suspend the salesperson without being told where to stick it.  However, a discussion should take place so that the manager can learn why the desired behavior isn't there and offer some encouragement, coaching or counseling to improve performance.  If performance (effort) doesn't improve in the agreed upon timeframe, termination, not suspension, may be the appropriate course of action.

Many volunteer youth baseball coaches scream the outcomes they want, like, "Get on base!", instead of coaching kids on the approach they should take to reach base in their next at bat.

Many Sales Managers are guilty of similar mistakes when they instruct their salespeople to, "Go sell something."  Effective sales managers can pinpoint exactly why their salespeople are struggling and offer coaching to solve the problem.

Salespeople and Sales Managers alike must remain cool, unemotional, in the moment, and learn to respond rather than react.  When they become emotional, bad things happen.  The best way to stay in the moment is to stop thinking.  Just listen.  Don't think.  Don't strategize.  Don't plan.  Don't script a next move.  Don't get creative.  Don't engineer anything.  Don't worry.  

You know Nike's tagline, "Just do it."  Well, use my tagline, "Just don't."

You can always respond with something along the lines of, "How would you like me to address that?"  Listen to their instructions and respond to those.

Image Copyright: toonerman / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales mistakes, Top Sales World

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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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