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In Praise Of Lazy Sales People!

by David Brock on March 17th, 2022

I’m fascinated by studying lazy sales people! Let me qualify that a little, I’m fascinated by studying lazy sales people that consistently achieve their goals.

There seems to be a “macho” mentality in too many sales people/leaders. They express pride in how many calls they make, how many dials, how many emails, how much social selling engagement, how they are leveraging the tools. I read a post from some “expert” talking about the long hours of work, declaring he starts his day at 3 am! ( I suppose each of us could make that claim, regardless when we start our days, it’s 3 am somewhere in the world…)

There’s a mindset around toughness, doing more, working harder, working longer. I think back to the old Gillette commercial stating, “Never let them see you sweat…” It seems this macho mindset is just the opposite, those who are working the hardest achieve more. There’s a mindset around the “struggle” for success. Those who struggle more are more successful.

Don’t get me wrong, I have huge admiration for those that work very hard. I deeply respect those who have overcome adversity to achieve their goals and dreams. Those that work hard, those that overcome adversity to achieve their goals can serve as role models for many of us–but there’s more to their success than just the hard work or the ability to overcome adversity.

And this is why I like to meet “lazy sales people.”

But in every organization, there’s always a small group of people. They are the “lazy sales people.” Let me be clear, they are the lazy sales people that always make their goals.

These people are fascinating to me. They’ve broken the code, they’ve figure out how to dramatically simplify and focus what they need to do to achieve their goals. They get the most work done, in the least amount of time.

Somethings they do:

  1. They focus exclusively on their ideal customers. They don’t waste time, trying to engage marginal customers or people/organizations outside their sweet spot.
  2. They focus on those who have a high sense of urgency around changing, or those they can incent to have that urgency. While there may be customers that are in the sweet spot, if they don’t need to change, or don’t want to change, they won’t buy.
  3. They maximize their impact in each activity with the customer. Rather than have one objective in a conversation, they design each conversation to accomplish as much as possible.
  4. They don’t have a volume/or quantity orientation. Where volume based people say, “I have to make 1000 calls, it will produce 10 conversations.” The lazy people think, “How do I get those 10 conversations with 100 calls, what do I have to do differently?” (This is actually from a real conversation I had recently.)
  5. They leverage every resource they can to help them sell. Whether it’s sponsors and mobilizers in their accounts, or resources within their own company, they find as many people to do the work for them as possible. They focus their time where they are the only person to accomplish their task.
  6. Part of gaining leverage is using the tools as effectively as possible. If a tool can help them cut their effort, they master the use of that tool.
  7. While they seem to be lazy, they are very disciplined and focused on what they do. It’s not that they don’t want to do the work, it’s just that they’ve figured out what work has the highest impact and creates the greatest value. They don’t waste their time on effort, rather they focus on impact, effectiveness, and efficiency.
  8. They cut their losses early. They are ruthlessly pragmatic and don’t indulge in wishful thinking. It’s amazing, as we look at most sales organizations, it takes a minimum of 2 times as long to lose a deal than win a deal. With the lazy sales people, we see that it takes them 30-50% as long to lose a deal as win a deal.
  9. Being a highly effective lazy sales person, means they must constantly learn and innovate. They don’t copy everyone else–afterall everyone else is working too hard and producing bad results. They don’t mindlessly echo the scripts or follow the playbooks, or make mindless dials or send senseless emails. The focus only on the things that produce results.
  10. They realize success is less a factor of working hard, but more a factor of working smart. And then they know how to break the code on this, as well. They realize, if first, they are working as smart as possible, then working hard, they have the opportunity to overachieve.
  11. They tend to be very quiet, they don’t brag. They don’t puff their chest out saying, “I made 1000 dials today and sent 5000 emails.” In some sense, they want to keep what they do their secret. (This is actually, where I have some disagreement with lazy sales people. Since they are so impactful and produce more, more effectively and efficiently, we can gain huge insight from them).

These “lazy” sales people are in virtually every organization. It’s sometimes difficult to find them, because they just quietly get the work done. But when I do find them, there’s so much we can learn.

Perhaps we should celebrate these “lazy sales people” a little more.

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