Sales Teams have NO room for prima donnas

So far in my latest gig, I am happy to say that I have not heard my sales people ever complain about grunt work that had to be done in order to get the sale; however, I can tell you that in my career I’ve seen it a lot.

Having always worked at small, struggling companies, I have always worked in an environment where everyone did 3 jobs because the money just wasn’t there to hire everyone that we needed in order to get things done.  In these companies, there is rarely the correct infrastructure, or structure to have a salesman just walk over with a signed order and place it in a wire basket and know that it is going to get done.  If I ever work in this type of environment, I think I would be bored to DEATH.  As an entrepreneur at heart, I really don’t think I can ever be where the fire isn’t there. 

At one company in particular where I worked as a sales rep, the company was fantastic and I loved working there – but there was NO structure in how to get a sale through the company.  I worked in New York as the north east rep and the company was in Atlanta.  I was working on some massive deals like Proctor and Gamble, NBC/Universal, GE, Citibank, Viacom, FedEx and others.  When I started working on these deals, I was thrilled to have gotten us in the door, and through the initial screen, and now having these large companies seriously considering us for their business.  Getting a start-up or small business at the same table as industry giants is something I pride myself on being able to do well.  However, these guys typically work with other companies of their size and stature and what irritates them about working with small companies is the lack of structure and process.  (hmmm… great topic for a separate blog entry).  So, a sales person needs to make sure that the large company gets the customer’s process followed whatever it may be and there may not be someone in your company that is going to do this.  So, what I would do very often, is get on a plane down to HQ and essentially walk the RFP, contract, etc from desk to desk and stand behind people until they did what I needed them to do.  If I didn’t fly down, I would be on Skype, the phone, SMS, etc. until I got what I needed.  I was never nasty about it, and people were generous with their time and information.  I was always understanding that they were busy too – and my commission was not the most important thing to them.

Which brings me perfectly to the point of this entry: Did I like the fact that I had to do all of this?  Did I like that sometimes, I even had to do other people’s jobs for them so that it got done?  No.  But, there is NO place in a growing company for a prima donna salesperson.  If you want the commission, then get off your butt and help the sale all the way through.  If you sell software, go do the installs.  If you sell high-end landscaping items like trees and bushes, then put on some gloves and pick up a shovel.

Your bank account will be thanks enough.