Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Misguided By Superiority - June 2, 2018

I am faced with a challenging client and a sales rep that simply doesn’t “get it”. This rep, in particular, has over twenty years of sales experience. Unfortunately, he has no grasp of the difference between being in account management versus new business development. And, to make matters worse, his superiority attitude has driven those around him away.


There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility is being superior to your former self.

Ernest Hemingway


Joseph can, at times, be a likable man. He has moments where his teammates find him funny and personable. However, those times are few and far between. Joseph more often has a chip on his shoulder. Whether it is his age or his supposed years of sales experience, no one in the organization can have a thoughtful conversation about sales without Joseph either becoming defensive, as if they are attacking him, or with his know-it-all-I’m-smarter-than-you attitude. His superiority complex is getting in the way of his success.


I’ve been tasked with the job of reasoning with Joseph and I feel as though I am failing. He has already become defensive at my even being brought in as a sales consultant by the owner of the company. He does not see what I am seeing; he’s refusing to look in the mirror. He is making a great deal of excuses as to why he is not selling or even gaining traction with prospects for that matter. He believes the world is against him, whether the market is not positioned to buy his services, the competition is more fairly suited, or his own organization is positioned wrong. Whatever his stated reasons, he walks around as if he’s king of the sales domain, and no one should question him.


In my own organization I have dealt with similar “Joseph’s”. They did not make it. I terminated them for poor performance. Of course, they were given multiple warnings, written improvement plans, and even video recorded meetings played back to show them exactly how bad their tones were. Yep, they were terminated, ran to unemployment, and blamed everyone around them for his poor predicament, not poor performance. They never looked in the mirror, as is the case with Joseph now, and they never came to the realization that today they will learn how to better themselves as a sales person from who they were yesterday.


While Hemingway was speaking more about humankind, I believe this statement could not ring more true than with a sales person. Sales people get beat up every day by the telephone and in meetings. Sales can be difficult when dealing with other human beings, personalities, attitudes. Learning from yesterday, not making the same mistakes twice, and becoming a better version of yourself is the only way to grow as a sales person. Realizing there are always better sales people than you is called humility. Being humble in the face of adversity and success alike will make you a better sales person. Dropping the superiority complex and attitude, being willing to take advice and guidance (even from a sales rep younger than you), and being understanding that winning comes and goes in waves will all make you a better, more successful sales person.

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