Survival of the Fittest on the Sales Force

When one salesperson complains that they lost a piece of business to another of your salespeople you have a problem on your hands.  One client says his salespeople refer to one particular salesperson as “the pirate” because they think she steals their prospects.  When territories are properly defined, this happens less often but even then the problem can creep up?  What’s behind it?  Why does it happen?

The first thing you need to understand is that this only happens when four conditions exist:

Condition #1: Your salespeople are competitive.
Condition #2: One salesperson has already failed in his attempt to close the business
Condition #3: The salesperson who lost the business is struggling and could have really used the commission.
Condition #4: The salesperson who lost the business was not memorable and the prospect chose not to do business with them.

The key condition though is #2.  If the first salesperson to call on the prospect had been successful, the situation can’t take place! In the end it’s the customer/client that decides who gets the business.  Even if salesperson #2 backs off, there’s no guarantee that salesperson #1 gets the business because they weren’t memorable enough, expert enough, strong enough, likable enough, etc.

To a certain extent, this whole scenario plays out like Natural Selection, a sort of survival of the fittest.  You must understand the conditions in order to recognize that it’s usually whining by the losing salesperson when, in fact, the first salesperson had control of the situation until he failed to close the business.