Sales People Will Sell What they Want

How to get them to sell products out of their comfort zone

What does this mean?  Simply put, sales people will sell products they are comfortable with and products considered “low hanging fruit”.  This has nothing to do with quality of product or skill of the sales person.  It means left without incentive or pressure to sell products outside of their comfort zones, the sales person won’t change their selling habits.  And why should they!

I recently talked to some sales people while in Japan (I have had this conversation with numerous sales people globally) and they were very honest when they told me they could sell products that were out of their comfort zones.  However, they stated these three reasons why they weren’t selling “harder to sell products”.

Low Hanging Apple1. the need for further training of the products

Unfamiliar products result in sales people feeling unconfident when talking with customers.  They need to have a higher level of product and technical knowledge before going out to sell with confidence.  Companies should ensure all sales people have a through understanding of the products they are assigned to sell.  A stronger product training regiment ensures all sales people have the necessary product and technical knowledge necessary to sell these “harder to sell products” with confidence.

2. Incentives to encourage selling the “harder products”

Sales people I talked to want incentives for selling products outside their comfort zones, otherwise why should they sell products they are uncomfortable with?  While I do not necessarily agree with this point, I do understand their logic.  Why worry about “harder to sell products” if there is no resulting incentive or disincentive?  Using a strong training regiment to better understand the products, comfort level should increase over time, resulting in incentives for “selling harder products” being harder to justify.

3. Development of sales forecasts and how they are reported to management

When product reports are combined together and not broken out individually, a disincentive for the sales person to sell products out of their comfort zone develops.  While broken out sales forecasts are done for annual plans, seldom are they enforced throughout the year.  Sales management does not pressure sales people to sell by individual product during the year, reinforcing the sales person to go after the “low hanging fruit”.  Furthermore, compensation schemes primarily recognize total sales achievement, not per product sales target achievements.  Without individual sales targets for each product with enforcement by management, the sales person will sell what they want in order to reach their annual sales goals.  There is a need from management for more stringent oversight on the products sales people sell to overcome the issue of sales people not selling these “harder to sell products”.

Do you think most sales people work this way? Let me know in the comments below.