When Sales Professionals are Unprofessional
Have you ever stepped into a sales pitch with your team, only to discover your account manager thinks he’s performing at a comedy club – except nobody’s laughing, and the punchlines are the deals slipping through your team’s fingers?!
While your sales team’s ability to be relatable and approachable can build stronger connections with colleagues, clients, and customers, crossing the line into unprofessionalism can break those connections and harm credibility and reputation… and, most importantly, the chance to close the deal. Remember the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, in sales, it couldn’t be more accurate. Your team’s actions and behaviors are not just reflections of your organization’s values and the service you offer. Professionalism is the linchpin holding the trust, credibility, and strong relationships with clients and prospects; it’s also the key to unlocking success in the fiercely competitive sales arena.
Truth be told, most people don’t intentionally act unprofessionally. He or she might not be aware they’re doing it! Drawing their attention to it is a good first step, but equally crucial is offering a solution. So, we’re here to help you out…here are the top 7 most complained-about unprofessional behaviors and potential solutions for you to share with your team. (Psst…this is a good time to ensure you’re not inadvertently guilty of any of them!)
1. Being unresponsive – Fail to answer emails or calls in a timely manner… or not at all!
- Set clear communication expectations.
- Make it a habit to check and respond to messages regularly.
- Consider using out-of-office messages or automated replies when you’re unavailable for an extended period to manage expectations.
2. Lack of Punctuality: Consistently arriving late to meetings or appointments without a valid reason.
- Plan ahead to ensure you have enough time.
- Be realistic with scheduling and avoid overcommitting.
- Build in extra time for longer than planned meetings, traffic, etc.
- Communicate delays and notify the relevant parties as soon as possible.
3. Poor Communication: Not listening actively or using inappropriate language.
- Practice active listening by giving your full attention, asking clarifying questions, and providing feedback.
- Listen to hear the client/prospect’s needs, not give an answer that pushes the sale
- Choose your words carefully to be respectful in tone.
4. Negative Attitude: Displaying a consistently negative or pessimistic attitude.
- Recognize the impact of your attitude on others and your work environment.
- Actively work towards finding solutions and maintaining a positive outlook.
- Don’t bad mouth the competition or colleagues
5. Lack of Accountability: Failing to take responsibility for mistakes and instead blaming others.
- Own up to mistakes and take steps to rectify them or prevent them from recurring.
- Identify where the breakdown happened. What do you need to do differently next time?
- Apologize when necessary.
6. Lack of Ethics: Making promises you don’t intend to keep or outright lying to clients or colleagues.
- Set realistic goals and commitments
- Identify how your product/service will address your client’s pain points, and you won’t have to oversell just to make the sale
- Ask yourself this question before you make a commitment: Do I have the support and resources to deliver on what I’m promising? If not, don’t promise.
7. Conflict Avoidance: Failing to address conflicts or disagreements in a constructive manner and instead allowing them to fester.
“The most professional bosses employ a face-to-face discussion to deal with low performers. And they have a game plan that’s well-thought-out in advance,” says Inc. Magazine.
- Get the other person’s side of the story/perspective. (You might be missing something!)
- Address conflicts early and constructively by discussing concerns openly with the parties involved.
- Keep discussions centered on the problem at hand rather than making them personal.
- If conflicts persist, consider involving a neutral third party or supervisor to facilitate a resolution.
In sales, first impressions are everything, and professionalism is the secret sauce to sealing the deal. While unprofessional behaviors can sometimes creep in unintentionally, addressing them is the key to unlocking success in the fiercely competitive sales arena.
Sales leaders, here’s your homework: Have your team do an honest self-evaluation to see if they are guilty of these 7 deadly sales sins. Then, take it one step further and have them anonymously evaluate each other. Now it’s time to have the uncomfortable conversations and help your team implement our solutions. As a leader, you hold the power to transform the class clown into a deal-closer.