CJNg _ 2.jpgHi!


    My name is c.j., and here's the January 2008 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter, and Happy New Year to you all!    


    Usually, people make resolutions at the beginning of the year.  Sometime into the year, most have forgotten what their resolutions were.  The 2 articles in this issue relate to some resolutions that you may want your sales force to make throughout the whole year:

  1. How to Make Sales People Change Their Bad Habits; and

  2. Refocusing the Sales Force to Cross-Sell;

    This issue's main article is on  "How to Make Sales People Change Their Bad Habits", and it deals with one major frustration that most sales managers face -  getting sales people to change for the better. 


    In brief:

  • Each day, sales managers are plagued by sales people's bad habits ranging from the unwillingness to prospect more to not asking enough questions to understand the customer to simply complaining all the time;

  • Yet, despite the best efforts to cajole or threaten these sales people, they are just so unwilling to change;

  • In the end, it will take a combination of various factors to make sales people change for the better.

    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (http://www.psycheselling.com/page4.html).


How to Make Sales People Change Their Bad Habits 


by c.j. Ng


        The hardest part of a sales manager's job is perhaps getting sales people to change for the better. 

        In my Dec 2007 issue, I mentioned that one of the root causes of poor price negotiation is sales people are poor, or lazy, in prospecting.  Hence, they would rather give in to price pressures, than to prospect for more qualified customers.

        Poor prospecting is just one of the many bad habits that sales people have, and the list may include:

  1. Complaining too much and doing too little;

  2. Talking too much and asking too little;

  3. Not understanding customers' hidden needs;

  4. Spending too much time on unimportant things;

  5. Arguing with customers and badmouthing competitors;

  6. Unwilling to share information and cross-sell;

  7. Investing the entire relationship with the customers' organisation with just only 1 contact person; etc.   

         The challenge of sales managers isn't so much of identifying what bad sales habits that their sales people have. It's not even about coming up with solutions on how to break those bad habits.  It's about getting their sales people to change those bad habits.

Why Sales People Don't Change Their Bad Habits?

         Sales people stick to their bad habits for a variety of reasons.  It's not purely because they are stubborn or resistant to change.  It's more than that.  Some of these reasons are:

  1. They don't see a clear connection between changing those bad habits and better sales performances;
  2. They are not given due recognition even when they change those habits (sales managers simply give recognition to the end result - sales, but seldom for improvements in the sales process);
  3. They don't have anything to lose even if they don't make any changes (if it's NOT  measured, then it's NOT done!)

        First and foremost, sales managers would have to let their sales people understand why they will have to do something uncomfortable like making more phone calls to higher-level people, or to ask customers some sensitive questions or building more contacts within the client organisation.

         To some people, especially those who are accustomed to some entrenched behaviours, making such changes can be a real pain.  As such, sales managers can help by making them see the "brightness of the future", i.e. how making such changes will have some immediate impact on the closure or the profitability of the deal.

Giving Due Recognition

         Traditionally, sales people are rewarded only when they close sales.  However, the amount of sales closed is the result of the selling process of the sales person who had put into place prior to that.
        Hence, if managers are convinced that by getting rid of certain bad sales habits, they will get better results from sales people, then managers will have to take a more active role in reinforcing the elimination of bad habits, and the adoption of good ones. 
         One way of doing so effectively is to give due recognition for any improvements made by sales people who have eliminated or reduce some of the bad sales habits.  One thing to note is that giving recognition is NOT the same as giving someone general praises.  The recognition has to be specifically addressing the positive change made by the sales person.  An example will be:

         "Sue, I have noticed that you are having more appointments with key decision makers recently.  I believe that if you continue this good work, and are able to find out what their real needs are, you are going to close some great deals!"
         In this particular instance, the manager states specifically what the recognition is for, and also tells the sales person what else she needs to improve on, and what she can get if she makes those improvements.

         Unfortunately, most managers tend to focus just on the negative aspects of what their sales people are doing wrong, and forgot about reinforcing what they are already doing right.  This is not to say that managers should be "soft" on sales people; rather it's just to give recognition where it's due, and let he sales person know that someone is really watching over them.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

Ultimately, sales people are shrewd people, and will at times do something only if they know what punishment befalls onto them if it's not done


        Usually, sales people who complain too much and did nothing to help themselves tend to fall under this categories.  Their complains include:

  • "Our price is just too high";
  • "If only we had more advertising";
  • "Those key people would not want to see me";
  • "You didn't teach us the 'perfect pitch' that will make any customer say yes";
  • "I don't have the resources to provide those additional information in my proposal"; 
  • "I don't have time to fill in customers' data into our database";
  • "That's not my job"; and so on

        Sometimes, some people complain just to vent frustrations.  Other times, complains are means to find excuses of doing the things that need to be done.

        If the latter happens frequently, it's usually a sign that the sales manager hasn't been putting in place certain measurements to measure sales people's behaviour (and not just sales revenue).  If sales people would have to find out needs and justify value over price, then those behaviour would either be recognised more doing, or penalised for not doing.  Leaving a desired behaviour to chance is not going to motivate any sales person to do what it takes to change for the better.

         As such, there are times when the reason why sales people could not change their bad habits could be this simple - because the sales manager allows them to.  Sales managers will have to be diligent and keep a good eye on what good sales habits they want from their team, and take action to eliminate to help each sales person those bad habits.

        If you would like to find out how you can make your sales people change their bad habits, simply e-mail
info@psycheselling.com or call +86-13671902505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me coffee.  All information shall be kept in confidence



Case in Point:
Refocusing the Sales Force to Cross-Sell

Many salespeople resist cross-selling, so management must address their misgivings head on and convince them of its benefits.

by Philippe Duclos, Rodolfo Luzardo, and Yasir H. Mirza


Business units within large organizations often resist company-wide cross-selling initiatives. The operating units of an industrial-products company, for example, had a track record of rebelling when asked to share customer-specific sales records. This aversion to cross-selling became problematic when the company recognized that assembling and selling bundles of products from different business units was critical if it hoped to exploit its most compelling growth opportunity: a previously unaddressed midsize tier of customers. Moreover, the company’s practice of rewarding business unit leaders and salespeople on the basis of individual performance—not their support for the efforts of others—thwarted cross-selling endeavors. One business unit executive said, “I actively discouraged my sales team from playing ball, because it didn’t help our business unit.”


The company’s leaders weren’t confident that the business units had the will to develop or implement a new incentive system. Further, salespeople held a deep-seated bias against sharing information, because they believed that doing so was quite risky. Their concerns—often born of experience—included fears that other units would disappoint their customers with late deliveries, anxiety about the quality of some products that were candidates for bundling, and a general belief that disparities in the importance of customers to different business units could undermine relationships that were critical to one unit but not another. To promote cross-selling, the company would therefore have to allay such concerns while shifting mind-sets from “How do I protect my business?” to “How can the company strengthen its relationships with customers and boost profits?”


To address these interrelated incentive and mind-set issues, the company developed a series of somewhat unorthodox workshops for salespeople, business unit leaders, and sales managers. Some of the workshops encouraged people to reflect on their tolerance for risk, their high and low career moments, and their motivations at work. These exercises led many sales reps to recognize that the foundation of their desire for strong customer relationships was a need to have something to offer potential employers. Demonstrating that effective cross-selling efforts could actually strengthen relationships, and thus help salespeople achieve their personal aims, was critical in exciting them about the new initiatives. More senior executives came to see that risk aversion was driving many of their decisions and that the risk to their own careers would rise considerably as the company’s growth slowed—a problem the new cross-selling efforts were designed to overcome.

As a result, it became far easier for business unit leaders to have faith that if they addressed their own delivery and quality issues, their counterparts in other business units would as well. Increased trust also spurred them to urge their sales groups to agree on a new compensation system that tied 10 percent of each salesperson’s bonus to peer assessments of his or her individual contribution to collaborative sales efforts.

Meanwhile, sales managers created and led small teams of sales reps from a number of business units to flesh out the details of account plans for shared customers. Sales managers and high-performing sales reps served as “navigators” who provided hands-on coaching to frontline sales teams and circulated early success stories to overcome skepticism. A priority was to familiarize salespeople with a new data-sharing system and a dashboard of metrics, including the number of joint sales calls, the percentage of offerings that bundled products from more than one business unit, and the percentage of sales—for a given client or territory—that involved collaboration across business units. Such metrics let salespeople see whether joint sales teams were making progress with specific customers and convinced many that the new cross-selling goals weren’t just empty talk. As the mind-set of cooperation took hold, salespeople identified opportunities to raise the company’s total revenues by 25 percent solely through cross-selling.


Past experience and ingrained beliefs make many salespeople uncomfortable when a company promotes collaboration or the sharing of risks and rewards. This pattern also holds for other kinds of efforts, such as enlisting product or technology specialists from the engineering or R&D departments to support the sale of complex offerings. Resistance frequently stems from the cost of these specialists, which can reduce the commissions of salespeople. In such situations, it’s critical for leaders to convince them that specialists can raise sales far more than expenses. Conversely, encouraging salespeople to boost prices or avoid discounting may often depend on convincing them that it is acceptable to trade some volume for higher margins. In our experience, companies hoping to change the entrenched behavior of a sales force must understand its deeper motivations and address these through disciplined communication, role modeling, skill building, and support systems.

About the Authors
Philippe Duclos is a principal in McKinsey’s Paris office, Rodolfo Luzardo is an associate principal in the Miami office, and Yasir Mirza is an associate principal in the Atlanta office


About PsycheSelling.com

As you might have heard of them, the most common challenges faced by sales people in any country, and across nearly every industry, are as follow:

  • Unable to qualify for the right customers;
  • Unable to generate interest through the telephone;
  • Unable to get to the right people (who may or may not be whom you think);
  • Unable to define the decision making structure of customers;
  • Unable to get customers interested and excited about what you have to offer;
  • Unable to sustain customers’ interest through the sales cycle;
  • Unable to get past clients’ objections and close the sale
  • Spending too much time with proposals that seem to go nowhere
  • Unable to sell deeper to the same customers

Having these concerns in mind, the Psyche-Selling TM is created as a result of 1-to-1 coaching with sales people from a variety of industries across 13 cities in Asia.

Psyche-Selling TM is currently a co-affiliate of the  HR Chally Group, together with  Shi Bisset & Associates, to help you identify gaps in your current sales force, and then formulate ways to help you get better results.

The HR Chally Group is a talent management, leadership development, and sales improvement corporation providing personnel assessment and research services for over 33 years.  Chally is recognised as an international technology leader in scientific assessment and prediction for selection, job alignment and leadership development, and for management assessment.  For more information about implementing Total Quality Sales Management in your company, pls. log on to http://www.psycheselling.com/TQSM-ExecBrief_email.pdf to get more insights.

Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail info@psycheselling.com or visit www.psycheselling.com