Sales and Sales Management Blog

May 14, 2008

From Water Cooler to Pipeline


Over the next couple of days, keep an eye on the salespeople in your office.  Who is associating with whom?  If your office is typical, you’ll probably find the majority of new and average salespeople hang around together, the top producers socialize and go to lunch with one another, and there may be a young up and comer or two who stays kinda off to himself or herself.

Why aren’t the top producers chumming it up with the average and new salespeople?  Is it simply arrogance?  For a few, yes, it’s arrogance.  But for the majority, it isn’t arrogance at all—it’s simply that they have little in common with the lower performers in the office.  They see themselves, what they do, how they do it, and even why they do it differently than the other sellers.

Typically, the top producers are not only working with more accounts than the average and below average producers, they are also dealing with better, more productive accounts.  Most don’t generate their business using the same methods as the lower performers, they don’t use the same selling process, and they don’t develop the same relationships with their prospects and clients.

And most importantly, they don’t have the same attitude and concerns as the other salespeople in the office.

What happens when the new and average salespeople gather at the water cooler or go to lunch together?  Sure, there is some discussion of who’s doing what to get business.  There may be a bit of a discussion of how to overcome obstacles or how to get in to see a particular prospect.  But the majority of the time is spent complaining about how the company doesn’t do this or doesn’t do that; how the sales manager screwed this up or blew that; how bad things are with so much competition, pricing out of the market, late deliveries, products that don’t perform, and all the other excuses salespeople make for not selling.

Those conversations are a far cry from the conversations the top producers have when they go to lunch together.  Their conversation at lunch may touch on the subject of intense competition or late deliveries but instead of griping, their focus is on how they can proactively deal with the issues or mitigate their impact.  But the majority of their conversation about business is on exchanging information that will help them sell.  They want no part of the complaints and moaning and groaning.  They won’t allow themselves the luxury of wallowing in misery because they know it only leads to failure—the attitudes and beliefs developed at the water cooler translate directly to the success or failure of the pipeline.

The top producers focus on success, most of the others focus on excuses for failure.

If you are a new or average salesperson, I urge to consider carefully who you spend time with in your office.  Select not only your mentors carefully, select your companions with equal care.  Keep in mind that the top producers can teach you how to become a top producer, whereas the other new and average salespeople can only teach you how to fail.

Take pains to develop relationships with the best producers around you.  If you are sincerely wanting to learn, have a positive attitude and bring something to the table—even if that is only eagerness and a desire to learn, they will accept you in their group.  It will take time.  It will mean you will have to pursue the relationships.  You will have to work to gain entrance but the payoff is education you cannot possibly get from anyone else in your company.

Don’t allow yourself to become infected with the negative attitudes and beliefs of the majority who surround you because in a very concrete sense, what happens at the water cooler translates directly to your pipeline.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] consultant Paul McCord’s brilliant commentary on his blog.  His post of May 2008 was titled From Water Cooler to Pipeline, and in it he asserts that our level of success (or failure) is absolutely dependent on whether we […]

    Pingback by Why your friends always determine the level of your sales success | The Magnetic Entrepreneur — May 25, 2009 @ 8:21 am | Reply


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