Why Don’t Sales People Sell?

Why Don't Sales People Sell - Blog Image for Shade's Mills Group

It is strange how you gather a number of similar experiences and begin to sense a trend.

For me, all of sudden I have encountered situations where sale representatives either do not like to sell or are not capable of selling!

I will offer some thoughts but I would really like to receive some feedback to hear peoples’ thoughts on why this occurs.
​Thought Starters:

1)  Working in sales, particularly developing new business is hard.  As the B2B sales environment evolves with customers less inclined to engage with face to face meetings with outside sales people, it has gotten to be very difficult!  (More on this subject in this previous blog post here.)

2)  There is a huge difference between being busy versus being productive.  It is easy to come up with a lot of important things that need to be done before a sales representative has to make a sales call.  How many are focused on being busy but they are not really out in the market engaged with customers or selling?

3)  There may be a lack of visibility and accountability for what a sales representative is doing.  Sales people need sales management and coaching on a regular basis.  I am not talking sell or perish beat downs but rather constructive skill building, encouragement and active collaboration around pipeline and performance management.

4)  There may not be clarity around the role or job description for a sales representative.  If someone has a hybrid, hyphenated or dual role such as a designer/sales, service tech/sales or engineer/sales (just a few examples), the individual in the hybrid role will gravitate to the non-sales function and think that by doing their primary role sales will naturally follow through their customer interactions.

5)  I am going to be provocative here, but there may be outdated compensation schemes where sales representatives continue to be rewarded for business development that they did some time ago in the past.  If a current customer is placing the majority of their orders in a self-serve fashion online or if they are being supported by an inside resource (sales or customer service) who can afford to pay bonus or commission to an outside sales person who is currently doing nothing to influence those orders?

Sales is a vitally important business function.  Outside sales can be a very large expense.  Should not your sales group be adept at achieving sales?

What are your thoughts?  Why do sales representatives like selling?


  1. Con Cosgrove on February 23, 2019 at 07:13

    In my experience, a lot of sales programs are built initially off of the success of a company’s first sales hire(s).

    This might be fine initially in a small team, however as the organization grows, rarely are investments made in developing or reviewing established processes and protocols.

    To sum it up: What works for the success of the first salesperson might not work for the next and as the team grows, companies must invest in training, workflow management, and in their salespeople in order to see continued success.

    To be blunt, plenty of companies see sales staff as a commodity based solely on performance and fail to build perfectly competent employees into sales assets.

    • Tom Fournier on February 23, 2019 at 11:07

      I like your observations.

      I find your last point interesting. I was at a dinner this week where we were discussing something similar. It went a step beyond what you described and that was a lot of companies do not value the importance of sales. Perhaps it is because of an age old stigma (caricatures of door to door vacuum cleaner salesmen, used car salesmen, etc.) but their sales group is not worthy of their attention until they start experiencing significant sales misses!

      Like any other business function, an approach to sales needs to be constantly evaluated. refreshed and updated!

      Thank you for commenting!

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