Epidemic of lazy sales staff ‘costing their companies money, growth and jobs’

Why the most important person in your company may be dragging you down

Sales people who do the bare minimum are costing the average British business up to 60{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} growth every year, simply because they don’t follow up sales leads, or just can’t be bothered to take a long trip to meet a client.

It’s a view backed up by sales staff themselves, who see the bad habits and sometimes-illegal behaviour of their colleagues every day, a national business law consultancy says.

According to the Protecting.co.uk consultancy, salespeople are often a law unto themselves, and their suspect practices are not only damaging company prospects, but could collectively be holding back the UK’s industrial recovery.

“Every salesperson has battle tales of epic sells and enormous commissions,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “But if you delve a little deeper, they’ve also got stories of fantastic skives and dreadful scams.

“It’s terrible, because most sales staff are hard-working types, but there’s a core that are a law unto themselves, and they are costing their companies and the British economy dear.”

Speaking in confidence to sales staff at business conventions and conferences, Protecting.co.uk found that a lack of motivation leads to companies missing out on millions in potential sales because the sales team isn’t working to its full potential. Protecting.co.uk estimates that some companies are missing out on up to 60{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} growth each year thanks to sales staff not working to their full potential.

So, what’s happening? Hall says that sales people admitted that they or colleagues:

• Don’t bother following-up sales leads, especially if they looked like too much trouble or were too far away
• Never up-sell to add value to the sale
• Stop selling once they hit their commission target
• Faking appointments
• Wreck potential leads through basic bad manners, such as missing meetings or giving misleading information

That’s a view backed up by 70{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of salespersons we spoke to (1200 people in total were surveyed), with many people coming up with tales of dishonesty which are costing their companies dear. Over 90{32ea1fbb2be3d0d7bafadc423360fa64825eea6dc77215e46a23ee2e2448fa06} of sales staff knew of a colleague who had been sacked for dishonest behaviour, showing that there’s an epidemic of bad salesmen in the UK.

Apart from the petty theft of faked appointments and rounded-up expenses, the most damaging to company prospects is the fact that many sales staff simply gave up working the minute they hit their commission.

“One salesman boasted that he could hit his monthly target in 15 days, and then effectively take the rest of the month off,” said Hall. “That sort of attitude is costing profits, and in the end, jobs. He might be a great salesman, but that’s not the kind of person I’d want working in my organisation.”

Others said they’d not chase up new leads, and would rather keep bumping along with existing contacts. “When so much relies on growth, lazy sales people are costing us dear all the way down the chain from production to consumer,” says Hall. “It’s selfish, as they’re doing the bare minimum, while denying their organisation the chance to make more money and recruit more staff.”

On top of bad habits in their basic duties, half of all sales people said they had faked their car mileage claims at least once in the last year, another act of petty theft that can add up to thousands every year for a company.

Car-leasing firm Flexed.co.uk says that while many sales staff see faked mileage claims as a perk of the job, it is effectively theft from your employers.

Flexed spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe said: “One salesman told us he’d regularly see fake clients all the time, simply because it was a sunny day and he fancied a day at the coast paid for by the boss. Sometimes, this included evening meals and an overnight stay. Unbelievable.”

“Mixing up personal and business miles is another one that costs businesses fortunes,” says Ratcliffe, “and it’s such a difficult thing to check, most people get away with it.”

It’s this self-serving attitude that will ultimately cost the UK economy dear, Protecting.co.uk says.

“Sales people are ultimately the most important people in any company,” Hall says, “And if your sellers are doing the bare minimum because they think they can get away with it, then there’s something very wrong in that sales team.

“Is it down to the team, or down to the management creating the conditions that lead them into temptation? Either way, it’s an issue that bosses should be taking seriously.”