Giving Sales Rep Attitude Its Due

  • TopLine Leadership Sales Management Training

Last year, I delivered a webinar to combined audiences of 295 sales managers. One of the poll questions I asked was “what percentage of your performance problems do you think are due to poor attitude or ‘wills’?”

The most common answer by far was “50-75%”— and overall, nearly 3/4s of the audience attributed a significant portion of performance issues to attitudes or wills.

This data confirmed my suspicion that the vast majority of sales managers recognize that poor attitude is harming the performance of their team. As I’ve talked about previously,  there are studies proving this fact (see this article from Robert Sutton, for example).

I have other evidence proving that sales manager understand the importance of attitude when it comes to sales rep performance. In the thousands of workshops I’ve delivered over the past two decades, I always ask sales managers to identify the characteristics they associate with peak performers. Here’s a typical list:

  • Good communicator
  • Organized
  • Negotiates well
  • Great selling skills
  • Develops killer proposals/presentations
  • Good work ethic, self-motivated
  • Positive attitude
  • Team player
  • Competitive
  • Honest
  • Creative
  • Problem solver

There’s something very interesting about this list that many sales managers don’t give serious consideration to until it’s pointed out to them. Implicitly, they have equated sales effectiveness not just with specific skills (the first five items on the list) but also with a number of will or attitude characteristics (the next five items)—plus a couple of characteristics that represent a combination of skill and will (the last two items).

I then ask the managers to indicate which of these characteristics they think are most important for a sales rep’s success, and guess what? Most of them choose the attitudes and wills. In fact, they tell me that about 60–70% of job success is due to having a positive attitude.

Despite this general awareness of the importance of sale reps’ attitudes, few sales managers have been taught strategies for identifying and, more importantly, evaluating and coaching attitudes.

If you’d like some tips for developing strategies for improving attitude and morale on your team, I’ll provide some practical advice in this space next week. You can also look here for a related discussion and here for a discussion of how to deal with demotivated reps.


Kevin F. Davis is the author of “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top.” The book is now available on Amazon.com here.

By | 2017-06-22T14:03:17+00:00 June 22nd, 2017|Sales Leadership Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Caroline Meyers July 19, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

    It’s true that negativity amongst sales reps can impact the whole team. The goal, then, is to make sure that team morale, as well as the morale of the individual sales reps, remains high. Otherwise, the team as a whole won’t meet its objectives.

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