In the current social and political environment, can you imagine what it must be like to be a salesperson whose job it is to sell memberships for the NRA? How about selling guns for Smith & Wesson, Glock, Colt, Sturm Ruger, or Beretta? Many of you have worked for companies that had less than desirable products and/or reputations and you know how difficult that can be. But how bad might it be for those salespeople when so much of the nation is demonizing their company, organization and/or products?
It was an awful week for stunned people around the USA and an unimaginable tragedy for parents of the 17 students who were killed in the most recent shooting rampage.
Going off my Blog topic for two paragraphs, allow me to warn you that this article will be very controversial and many people will hate it and/or me. I don't like guns, I don't own a gun, I don't want to be in the same room as a gun, but some of my best friends hunt and have collections of hand guns and hunting rifles. I'm OK with people using firearms for hunting, but I'm sure it pisses off members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
The National Rifle Association (NRA) was under attack in the past week but I don't understand why. I thought the NRA was a membership organization for people who own guns in much the same way that the American Automobile Association (AAA) is a membership organization for people who own cars. The AAA doesn't manufacture or sell cars but they do provide benefits to their members. When drunk drivers take innocent lives because they were driving under the influence, I am not aware of anyone attacking the AAA. The NRA doesn't manufacture or sell guns but like the AAA, they offer benefits to their members. And while they certainly don't write the laws, they do lobby congress to enact laws favorable to their members. Monsanto lobbies for legislation that allows farmers to spray cancer-causing Roundup on Roundup resistant crops and then we eat the stuff. Pharmaceutical companies lobby to fast track drug approvals that allow doctors to prescribe poisonous treatments that we inhale like candy and become even sicker. Agricultural companies lobby to have their diabetes-causing wheat products included on the government's food pyramid of healthy eating. These industries and big companies lobby for favors that eventually kill us and we don't attack them. So why are people blaming the NRA for the recent string of shooting tragedies? Let's stop kidding ourselves. If we have to place the blame somewhere, let's blame our dysfunctional, bought and paid for, corrupt government and the media that amplifies the outrage and pushes the divisiveness.
OK. I'm done with my rant and returning to the sales topic that I began with. What must it be like to sell for one of these companies or organizations when they are under attack from all sides and what should those salespeople do?
I don't think salespeople representing gun companies have anything to worry about as this article in the NY Times shows that MORE people, not fewer, are buying guns!
But what if you sell for a company whose products are not reliable, lack the latest and greatest features, aren't a good fit, or don't have competitive pricing? That would suck, wouldn't it? What if you sell for one of America's 20 Most Hated Companies? That would suck too. But those sales organizations are not disintegrating, their salespeople are not heading for the doors and their revenues are not in a nosedive. Most of the outrage, hate, and reputation-killing is taking place in the media, not with their customers.
Most of the 16 million salespeople in the USA work for an underdog because only one company in each space can be the most well known, the best in quality, or have the lowest prices. Everyone else is an underdog and underdogs do just fine. In order to succeed when selling for an underdog you must be better at selling but unfortunately, 43% of all salespeople are crappy.
In the battle to win business, great salespeople, who follow an effective sales process, take a consultative approach and sell value, will win more often than crappy salespeople whose only attributes may be to make friends and offer the lowest price. However, when there aren't any great salespeople in the mix, the crappy salespeople with the best prices will beat the crappy salespeople who don't have the best prices, each and every time.
Those of us in the sales profession might not be able to do anything about the tragedies that are taking place, but we can do something about all of the crappy salespeople out there. If you are responsible for hiring salespeople, don't hire any more crappy ones. Use an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment. If you manage salespeople, get better at coaching them! Attend my Sales Leadership Intensive in May. If you lead a company or a sales organization, determine how your salespeople measure up in all 21 Sales Core Competencies. And if you are a salesperson, ask for training and coaching to help you become elite and become one of the top 5% of all salespeople in the world.
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