Does Your Team Sabotage Themselves? Two Behaviors to Avoid


Self-sabotage doesn’t get talked about nearly enough in our business. In past interviews and posts, I have shared many of the “7 Self Sabotaging Behaviors to Avoid” but I wanted to highlight two behaviors that can be the most devastating to your sales performance. Luckily, they’re also the easiest to fix.

  1. Personal Accountability: Yes, I’ve written about these two dirty little words in past columns, but that’s because they’re very important to what we do. And whenever I train sales managers on the differences between really leading and merely managing, I always ask the question: “When is the last time any salesperson came up to you and said, ‘Boss, I messed this deal up.’?” The room invariably erupts in laughter because it almost never happens — but it really should.

Whether or not you like to play the blame game when it comes to deals gone bad, it’s important, as a manager, that you identify what went wrong. A salesperson may not want to admit that his or her actions, approach, techniques, word tracks or even body language played a role in sabotaging a deal.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you shouldn’t think about deals gone bad as lost opportunities. Instead, look at them — and this may sound touchy feely — as an opportunity to teach and learn. See, you want to separate yourself from other sales professionals and grow. The way to do that is to examine what went right and what went wrong in the deal. The problem is most of us don’t. We would rather just drop it and look ahead to the next deal.

  1. Know-It-All Syndrome: There’s nothing that drives me crazier than a salesperson or manager who thinks he or she knows it all. Let me be clear: Being in the business for 20 or 30 years means absolutely nothing in today’s marketplace, especially if you’re not adapting, changing, expanding and implementing new skills. Don’t let your past success fool you!

One of my gto quotes when speaking to dealers is one I picked up from Bill Gates. The first big step he made toward building his billion dollar empire was to license the DOS operating system — which he didn’t even own — to IBM, under a deal that would allow him to license it to other companies as well.

See, the smart people at IBM believed the real money was in computer hardware, not software. Well, you know how that worked out. Gates summed up the lesson learned thusly: “Success is a menace. It convinces smart people they can’t lose.”

If you are good at what you do, congratulations! However, don’t think in terms of effective vs. ineffective; instead, focus on ways to become more effective. Put yourself in a continuous learning mode. Hey, I’ve got six books in the queue on my desk right now, waiting to be read. How about you?

Know-it-all syndrome is mainly caused by sales professionals and managers who don’t think beyond the fundamentals. I’m not here to challenge the road to the sale or the fundamental principles that have made millions of sales pros, including myself, successful in the car business. But in this day and age, walking around with the belief that the demands, needs, wants and interests of customers haven’t changed is simply crazy.

Listen, the competition for customers in today’s marketplace is fierce. Don’t just run with the pack, lead it!