The Showroom

Four Causes And Cures For Sales Team Cancer

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Dave Anderson - Also by this author

Companies that decline or desist often blame competition, the economy or inventories for their demise. However, more often than not, external forces rarely do in failing firms. They just can’t get out of their own way and self-destruct. The biggest threat to your survival comes from the inside, not the outside: from cancerous people, policies, attitudes or strategies that diminish the vitality of your enterprise, eventually leaving it disabled or dead. Following are four causes and cures for sales team cancer. When left unchecked, these forces extol a heavy price on profits and productivity and eventually reduce your once-thriving enterprise to insignificance—at best case—and extinction—at worst. At this week’s sales meeting, go over these four causes and cures for sales team cancer and create a greater awareness of what is not acceptable in your workplace.

1. Purveyors of gossip, rumors and discontent. These people are pollutants. They create continual distractions and destroy momentum. They’re divisive, manipulative losers who flock and become a fellowship of the miserable. A cure for this cancer is to confront it and officially make it unacceptable. Teach people to guard their associations and walk away from those who would distract them or bring them down. The only cure for those who persist in this sabotage is to kick them out the door.

2. Yesterday’s heroes. Yesterday’s heroes are fine as long as they’re still producing. Those who aren’t and insist on borrowing credibility from the past are cancers that lower the bar for everyone and send the wrong message about performance standards and expectations. Tenure and credentials don’t substitute for results, and this group spends more time polishing image than performing. I know, I know, many of these people are “loyal.” but when the number of candles on their cake outnumbers their recent accomplishments, you must stretch them, reassign them to a position where they can succeed or sever them. Anything less is cowardly compromise.

3. Liars, cheats and thieves. Are you kidding? Fire them. Fire them all. Enough said.

4. Anyone infected with the “Disease of Me.” This cancer includes anyone more concerned with his personal agenda than the good of the team. This scarcity mentality causes people to believe that anything anyone else gets means there’s that much less for them. These lone wolves are disloyal, selfish, and possessed by the unholy trinity of “me, myself and I.” This cancer is often brought on by unhealthy internal competition and can be cured by creating a vision for your organization that galvanizes the team rather than divides it; by hiring leaders who know how to positively reinforce and motivate and can keep their team focused on a common goal.
If you don’t confront and correct the cancers in your business, you unwittingly reinforce them, and behaviors that get reinforced get repeated. Thus, care enough to confront cancers instead of pretending like they’re not there. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.

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