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Top 5 Treatments for Sales Fungus

Women Hand EyeSales Fungus, identified as a disease state in March of 2019[i], affects salespeople and sales managers.  It hampers sales performance (quota failure), leading to job losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales opportunities.

In this article we will cover treatments for versions of Sales Fungus that specifically affect sales reps.  Sales management Sales Fungus symptoms will be discussed another time.

The disease state manifests itself in an odd cross section of personal performance lapses, usually overlooked or diagnosed as other issues.  Warning signs appear to be concentrated on fearful states (not making quota, fear in negotiating, fear in pipeline management, fear of sales management, fear in sales meetings, accountability, etc.). It also manifests itself by delayed sales actions (in lead follow-up, proposal, quoting, answering prospect questions, etc.), including an aversion to implementing company sales policies and procedures.

Some symptoms are:

  1. Sales lead follow-up is reduced from a mandatory 100% to as low as 25%. Salespeople unexpectedly think such follow-up is optional.
  2. Sales Fungus infections create what is known as the “delaying syndrome:” Reps delay lead follow-up, delay submission of follow-up information requested by the prospect, and fail to deliver a proposal or quotes for at least a week, until they are late.
  3. When managing the sales pipeline, the salesperson with an SF infection holds back on entering information of any prospects who are not a sure thing.
  4. The fungus is especially visible when the salesperson fails to update the CRM system after talking to a prospect.
  5. The disease shows up as an inability to listen to the prospect or customer, whereby the sales representative dominates the conversation with solutions the prospect may not have revealed.
  6. When asked what they want from Marketing, reps will say they want more leads. When Marketing complies, they insist they said they want more ‘qualified leads,’ not more leads.
  7. Sometimes the illness manifests itself as poor territory management (lots of windshield time), high travel expenses, or even a lack of client visits as the rep hides in his or her office.
  8. Those with a severe case of sales fungus lose the ability to negotiate, often discounting their products before the prospect even knows the price (this is known as self-negotiation).
  9. One of the most visible aspects of an SF infection is when sales reps, at a sales meeting, are asked to discuss their pipeline. The infected ones talk loudly and fast, blame inaction on the prospect, and insist on going over every lead with the same excuse: Marketing gave us bad leads who don’t buy.

 Sales Fungus Warning Sign

One of the most visible aspects of an SF infection is when sales reps, at a sales meeting, are asked to discuss their pipeline. The infected ones talk loudly and fast, blame inaction on the prospect, and insist on going over every lead with the same excuse: Marketing gave us bad leads who don’t buy.

A more comprehensive list of symptoms is available here.

While there are many more symptoms and thoughts about cures, these five treatments help tremendously in minimizing disease disability:

  1. Lead Follow-up. Establishing a policy of 100% sales lead follow-up.  You can’t sell to people you don’t contact after they’ve contacted you and asked for help. This single policy can increase sales by 10-30% in 90-120 days. 
  2. Pipeline Management. Fear of letting management know that customers are not buying (hey, they know that already) is one of the symptoms of Sales Fungus.  If representatives can overcome their hesitation to be truthful about the pipeline, with truthful prospect feedback, they can get help faster for their sales slump.  Sales Management must retrain the sales representative on the benefits of truthful pipeline management. In severe cases, the sales representative may be put down (fired) because of their hesitation to be truthful.
  3. Negotiation Fears Over Pricing. Sales reps in the grip of Sales Fungus lose the ability to support their products with firm product benefits and use price as a method to get the sale.  Some have been known to negotiate against them-selves, offering discounts before the prospect even addresses price. Negotiation courses and books help tremendously.  Personal help through sales manager demonstrations slows down the disease process.
  4. Updating the CRM System. Keeping the CRM system updated is paramount in demonstrating to sales representatives that they can overcome sales failures brought on by Sales Fungus.  It shows they’re in control of their territories and maintaining their sales pipelines.  It takes stress away from daily tasks that may be forgotten when Sales Fungus contributes to a lethargic approach to territory management.
  5. Overcoming the Delaying Syndrome. Sales representatives may become so depressed at times from Sales Fungus’ advanced state, that they delay responding to customer requests for information and pricing.  They delay asking for help from sales management, marketing, and sales engineers ­­-- to the point of denying that their slow-to-act work habits are affecting sales.  An intervention is often required at this point, in a meeting with sales, marketing and customer service managers to remind the fearful sales rep that help is available.

As a disease state, Sales Fungus can be cured, especially if caught in time.   In the worst cases, the sales representative must be let go and some must change careers. 

To know more about Sales Fungus disease symptoms go here:  Are Your Salespeople Infected with Sales Fungus?

Footnote

[i] James W. Obermayer, Are Your Salespeople Infected with Sales Fungus?, Sales Lead Management Association Blog, March 24, 2019

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