5 Corporate Blunders that Cripple Sales Efforts

Originally published
Originally published: 5/1/2011

Address these problems to get everyone working together.

Selling complex solutions is a team effort. If you’re going to cut the big deals, you’ll need to get everyone in the company to push to make it happen. Unfortunately, many companies have problems getting the operational groups — the non-sales guys — to work closely with the sales team to close business. Engineers want to do engineering, field techs want to stay in the field, support groups want to keep their stats low, and so forth. According to Sharon Daniels, CEO of the sales training firm Achieve Global, these are the five most common blunders that cause teams and companies to fail when it comes to working together to make big-ticket sales, and what you can do to fix the problems.


1. Booking too much work.

  • The culprits: Operational managers
  • What it is: Pretending that operational teams can make their current deadlines with their current projects, and still provide the support that the sales team needs to close business. 
  • Why it happens: Sales managers and operational managers alike underestimate the time and effort it will take to help the sales team.
  • Where it leads: The operational managers become frustrated at the constant interruptions and start directing their staff to ignore requests from the sales team.
  • How to stop it: Keep track of the amount of effort “donated” to the sales team, then adjust operational schedules to account for sales overhead.


2. Pointing fingers.

  • The culprits: Sales managers
  • What it is: Sales managers blame failed opportunities on the unwillingness of other teams in the company to support the sales efforts.
  • Why it happens: Sales managers are looking for a scapegoat and find it easier to blame another group than look at their own ability to manage the resources that they do secure.
  • Where it leads: Meetings of top management devolve into arguments over who is to blame, rather than working on solutions to future problems.
  • How to stop it: Sales managers must document requests for sales support from other groups and make it explicit what will happen if that support is not forthcoming.


3. Pinching pennies.

  • The culprits: Operational managers
  • What it is: Operational managers refuse to spend budget (primarily travel and training budgets) in order to help the sales team close business.
  • Why it happens: Typically operational budgets are determined based upon their own goals, so there’s little incentive to spend in order to help sales.
  • Where it leads: Endless bureaucratic hassles whenever non-sales teams need to spend budget in order to support a sales effort.
  • How to stop it: Set up sufficient funding in the sales group budget to fund necessary expenses for full participation of operational team members.


4. Stove piping.

  • The culprits: Operational managers
  • What it is: Managers throughout the organization pursue their separate organizational goals without regard for the need to generate revenue.
  • Why it happens: Operational groups are being goaled on achieving objectives that  may or may not be connected to revenue creation.
  • Where it leads:  The sales group become identified as a foreign entity and even as an "enemy" to be avoided and thwarted. 
  • How to stop it:  Make it clear to every organization that they exist purely to serve the needs of the customer - as defined by the sales team.


5. Show boating.

  • The culprits: Sale professionals
  • What it is: Sales pros treat other employees poorly because they believe that they are performing the only important function within the firm.
  • Why it happens: Sales teams often forget that their success, long term and short term, is heavily dependent upon the quality of their internal relationship.
  • Where it leads: Worst case, you end up with unfortunate surprises at the end of important sales cycles, resulting in lost sales. 
  • How to stop: Make it clear to every organization that they exist purely to serve the needs of the customer - as defined by the sales team.

Geoffrey James is the author of several books, hundreds of business articles, and currently writes the popular Sales Machine blog on CBS Interactive’s BNET website.

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