The Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Groups

As science fans know, the Drake equation is a formula for predicting the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. This math-based equation is a generally accepted tool used by the scientific community to identify specific factors thought to play a role in estimating the number of technological civilizations that may exist in our galaxy. While working as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, Dr. Frank Drake conceived this approach to define the terms involved in estimating the search for life in the galaxies. I want to apply a similar equation to determining the health and well-being of a sales organization. In my opinion, there are “Seven Deadly Sins” or factors that can indicate trouble ahead for companies trying to compete in today’s difficult marketplace. These issues can cripple a company especially amid the generational and technological shifts that our industry is currently undergoing. The Seven Deadly Sins are:

  1. Turnover. When companies have more than 40% turnover, the cost of constantly replacing originators becomes a never-ending battle. Inevitably, hiring standards are lowered and compensation rises to attract any sales candidate which is not a sustainable practice.
  2. Senior Managers Retiring. When senior managers have less than five years to work before retirement, the motivation to make good long-term decisions and investments for the sales organization fades. Senior leaders in this category tend to be thinking more about retiring than leading.
  3. Average Age. When the average age of senior leaders is 55 years or more, they repeat strategies that they knew back in the day which aren’t effective in the current marketplace.
  4. Underperformers. When the number of underperformers is greater than top performers, there will always be a net income issue.
  5. Training Budget. When the training budget for originators and managers is less than the annual sales meeting expenses, there is no investment left to address sales skills improvement. Once the sales rally is over, the chance of remembering what was learned lessens dramatically within 30 days.
  6. Weak Culture. When low performance is tolerated, a weak sales culture permeates and undermines an organization’s probability for success.
  7. Undervalued Managers. If originators are valued more than managers, the chances of delivering an excellent customer experience consistently is slim.

Certainly, there are others issues that can negatively impact an organization but these seven are especially damaging to a company’s long-term success. Senior executive must address these “sins” before it is too late. Otherwise the Death Star is the next stop.