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Why Your Sales Team is Average (and a Little Bit Dull)

By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

It stands to reason that social influence has an impact on us. We become more similar to the people we spend time with.  If everybody at the office watches “Game of Thones” then we all turn into “Game of Thrones” fans.  If like me, you have never watched “Game of Thrones”, you become an outsider, and nobody wants to be an outsider.

We can’t help but conform to some degree, so that the ideals of others bleed into our own.  It is why I always try and get a guest speaker for all our all-hands calls and company meetings to provoke an injection of new ideas or at least a different tone of voice.  When we first started Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) both Adam Gray (my co-founder) and I said we didn’t want the company to turn into the “Adam and Tim show”.

People: It’s always important to mix things up.

Adam always says, and now so do I (proving the point), that Adam and I don’t have an exclusivity on all the good ideas.  We don’t, which is why we recruit the best. 

As Steve Jobs famously said, “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people, so they can tell us what to do.” 

This is how cliques form and it’s why offices have to make sure they mix their staff around. It’s also why spending time with people who are more successful than you will help you to become more successful.

Mudos Ponens wrote:

“If you are a human, then the biggest influence on your personality is your peer group. Choose your peers. If you want to be better at math, surround yourself with mathematicians. If you want to be more productive, hang out with productive people…”

The ultimate form of democracy

This week a Social Media Guru contacted me and explained to me what I can and cannot do on social media.  I was accused of hijacking an event by using their hashtag, which was strange as my company was actually involved in organising the conference and I was tweeting with permission of one of my staff who was speaking.  If the organisers had a problem, they would have contacted me.

Social media is the ultimate form of democracy. If my followers don’t like what I’m doing, then they will stop following me.  I’m unsure why this Guru seemed to think I should do what they say. Another example of people wanting (maybe needing) you to conform.

It’s similar to sales teams I have worked in or listening to sales teams I now train:

“I don’t see why I should prospect. Marketing should create the leads. It’s what they are there for isn’t it”.

“You are wasting your time selling to the NHS” (The company ended up being market leader to the NHS).

I have no idea why people said these things to me, I guess they wanted me to be like them.  In terms of the person who advised me not to prospect, if I had followed their advice, I probably would have been fired in the same batch of people as him if I done what he said.

When it comes to relationships, we can be greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. It affects our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions. Of course, everyone is their own person, but research has shown that we’re more affected by our environment than we think.

So, what can we do about it?

The first thing we have to realise is that often our “gut” reaction and instinct is right.  We have all probably dated somebody where we think, this isn’t going to work, and we rightly walked away.

We need to add some common sense.  I read this week about a well-known figure who, while being in a loving relationship, flirted with somebody online.  When they stopped, the other person, feeling aggrieved, went and told his wife.  Now, common sense should tell you that flattering it might be to have somebody flirt with you. But that situation was only going to end in tears.  Sometimes you have to say no to people.  You cannot be liked by everyone.

You also have to be aware of bullies.  Bullying can appear in many forms, for example, “advice on social media” from people who want you to be like them. A common form of bullying in the office is “sarcasm”.  Sarcasm is often used by a person to put you down and direct you to another person’s way of working.

One system that works is recruiting a diverse team.  People from differing backgrounds have different skills and different world experiences. This can stop companies becoming stale.

Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United Manger, said that David Beckham irritated him, but David was a game changer.  You could be 1 – 0 down and David would come on and score a free kick.  Manchester United would probably go on to win 2 -1.  And in the world of football (soccer), as in sales, you only get three points for a win.

We can never be the perfect person, but we can all try and be a little bit better to our fellow colleagues and human beings.  Thanks for reading.

Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things:
Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

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