The Search for Perfection - How it Can Ruin Your Sales Efforts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 @ 22:09 PM

darksideSometimes perfection is good but sometimes there is a strange dark side.  First the good and then, in the fifth paragraph, I'll share the frightening dark side with you.

First the good: After months of planning and design, Jonathan Farrington, his design team and the Sales Council (I am one of the Sales Council members along with 23 others including Jill Konrath, Linda Richardson, Keith Rosen, and Tony Alessandra) have finally launched Top Sales World, a site with hopes of becoming the top web site for sales on the planet!  Stop by and let me know what you think.  Over the coming weeks and months you will find the best expertise, advice, videos, podcasts, articles and resources on sales and sales leadership. More good: Lee Salz has been working on his Sales Management Minute for quite some time and it too strives for perfection.  Visit him and let him know what you think.  And as my regular readers know, I've been working with my team at Objective Management Group for more than 20 years to perfect the Sales Force Evaluation, the Sales Candidate Assessment and the Leadership Team Evaluation and as always, we are THIS CLOSE to perfection.

That's the good side of perfection - you work hard, diligently and creatively to develop something and it comes out, well, almost perfect.

But as I mentioned earlier, there is a dark side to perfection and I'll share the gory details with you here.  You have salespeople who are perfectionists and while this is a good when it comes to attention to detail and getting things right, it's bad when it comes to selling. Bad things have names - usually Greek or Latin, so I named it Perfection Adversis - Perverse for short - when your salespeople can't, or more specifically, won't, do what they need to do until they're sure they can do it...perfectly.  As you know, it's simply not possible to consistently sell with a perfect approach.

Let's take prospecting for example.  You have some people who are prospecting monsters - no problem.  You have others with call reluctance - too many weaknesses to even think about using the phone to make cold calls and you understand their fears and have them in account management roles.  Still others must be directed to call and then held accountable. Finally, there are your perfectionists who, because they are unable to achieve cold calling perfection, don't even make the attempt.  These salespeople, in a hopeless search for perfection, are chronic procrastinators.

Is there hope?  Yes, of course. And all you have to do is....

Give them permission to do it badly!  Do it with them.  Help them fail!  Make sure they have fun with it.  Make it a game.  Give them points just for doing it.  In time, they'll strive to improve but they can't improve until they start and they can't start until you find a way to make it safe for them.

It's not a perfect solution, but it's better than what they're doing now!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, Keith Rosen, Linda Richardson, jonathan farrington, jill konrath, Top Sales World, perfectionists, procrastinators, sales management minute, lee salz, tony alessandra

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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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