The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Work Ethic

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 @ 08:09 AM

workethicWhen a sales force evaluation shows that a salesperson lacks commitment, the most likely remark we hear from management is usually, "but he has such a good work ethic!"  When we ask what they mean by "work ethic", management often say things like:

  • very loyal
  • works long hours
  • long-time employee
  • very responsive to requests
"Works long hours" is obviously the one most consistent with "good work ethic" but the others?  Not so much.  Most important to note is that none of the four responses has anything to do with Commitment.
Sales Commitment is about a salesperson's willingness to do whatever is necessary in order to succeed.  Those necessary things usually don't occur in the office, but in the sales cycle, including:
  • Making calls they might not be comfortable making
  • Asking questions they might not be comfortable asking
  • Pushing back when they might not be comfortable pushing back
  • Having a conversation about money when they aren't comfortable talking about money
  • Saying 'no' to an inappropriate presentation request when it's not comfortable to say 'no'
  • Learning to sell the new way when they might not be comfortable with change
  • Being proactive when their default is to be reactive
  • Hunting for new business when they are most comfortable managing existing accounts
Let's look at the 2011 Boston Red Sox historic collapse which concluded last night with a dramatic and stunning 9th inning loss to the lowly Baltimore Orioles. Moments later the Tampa Bay Rays beat the 1st place New York Yankees in extra innings when they overcame a 7-0 deficit to tie the Yankees in the last half of the 9th.  The Red Sox, who also own the record for the greatest comeback in sports history (2004), had a 9.5 game lead over the Rays on September 1.
Was it lack of commitment or work ethic that fueled their collapse?  
I would say it was both.  Some guys couldn't perform in the clutch - nothing to do with how many hours they practiced or worked out or how hard they worked out.  Mental toughness is a commitment issue.  Some guys were out of shape and either too tired or too sore to perform to expectations.  That is a work ethic problem.
In sales, unlike sports, work ethic is nice, but given a choice between strong work ethic OR strong commitment, I'll take the salesperson with strong commitment.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales commitment, work ethic

Subscribe via Email

View All 2,000 Articles published by Dave

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile


Receive new articles via email
 to the Blog on your Kindle 



Most Recent Articles


Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs 2021

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

Hall of Fame

 Hall of Fame


Top Blog Post

Expert Insights

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers


Top Blog

Hubspot Top 25 Blogs


2021 Top20 Web Large_assessment_eval