I want sales NOT tales!

- June 15, 2011 3 MIN READ

I find sales people the best kind of people to work with because they know how to hustle, are driven by personal goals and are expert negotiators. I also find sales people are the worst people to manage because they know how to hustle, are driven by personal goals and are expert negotiators! – Sound familiar Sales Managers?

At the end of the day, sales people lead the way in driving your business [especially if you are a startup] forward. They bring in the money honey, and so you should give them as much free range as possible, right? WRONG!

Let’s have a look at three pain in the backside sales people to manage, and how from the outset you can set clear boundaries so you harness their skills and have them work your way, rather than them make their own rules.

The Cocky Salesperson

I usually find these people are successful sales people, they are great at closing deals and are the real ‘look at me’ people of your salesforce. They will be nice to those they need in order to ensure their deals are processed properly and walk over everyone else. You should bow down to them in their mind as they keep your business running. They are commission hungry and they know to a tee how much they need to sell in order to make their budget each month to live the lifestyle they like. However they will never have the companies best interest at heart when doing this as they will go ahead and sacrifice margins, make promises to customers outside of normal procedure and may even talk the products features up to a point where they will infer it can do things beyond it’s capabilities. These people are great to have as they will always bring the money in, but be warned – Lay down the rules and procedures from the outset, have clear discount protocol and approval processes, they need a strict framework.

The “that deal is coming through next month” Sales person

You want sales NOT tales. If you are constantly hearing excuses like “it’s definitely coming in” “she is away on holidays” etc all the time – then there is something wrong and you should be coaching this person immediately or looking at their probation. I am a big believer that everyone can sell given the right tools – however some people just love to tell stories. There are many “sales” people out there that just job hop around and leave after a few months and never sell anything – make sure you reference check thoroughly and keep your eyes peeled for story tellers. If you want stories, hire a writer.

The Negotiator

Everything is a negotiation, they are great sales people and play by the rules all the time, you never have a problem with their customer service – the problem will appear usually once you are in the thick of it and it’s too late. They will get to know you and how you operate and then will start negotiating small things like if they get ‘x’ results this week can they have Friday off? Then they may even talk you into paying a bonus if they overachieve on expected budget by ‘x’ amount and before you know it, you are starting to set a precedent and the rest of the team notices and what is good for one is good for all. The key is don’t negotiate with individuals – make all incentives team oriented as it will drive bigger more lucrative results, you won’t be playing favourites and you send a clear message that you make the rules.


When you are starting up you can not afford issues to arise from your sales teams. What is the worst sales behaviour you have encountered?