Stop Playing Corporate Nice Guy and Start Being Productively Selfish with Your Time

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There’s a lot of talk about “niceness” today.  Employees are often judged on whether they play nicely with others or what kind of team member they are. Listen, I’m all about culture, and I love being part of a team – a winning team. But everyday I see supposed sales killers choosing to play good corporate ambassador instead of focusing on their primary task – hunting down new business!

The HR folks and the corporate culture police hate when I go down this path. But intellectual honesty forces me to.  Evidence shows that the top-producing sales hunter is rarely voted the most pleasant, selfless member of the sales team. In my experience, it’s the opposite. The top dogs tend to be selfish – productively selfish – with their time. High achieving salespeople typically have no problem cutting off a long-winded, time-wasting associate:  “Sorry, gotta run.” And when they find the copy machine jammed, don’t expect the top-producers to open the cabinet and attempt to follow the maze of directions to unjam it. More likely they’ll kick the machine and yell for someone to “Get the damn copier fixed – I’ve a got a major proposal to get out!”

Maybe you’re smiling as you read this. Or possibly you think I’m a jerk and simply giving license for high achievers to act like babies and spoiled brats. I’m not condoning bad behavior or encouraging sales stars to be prima donnas. Just reporting what I see. The guy on the sales team who is always volunteering to be on the company Halloween Party committee or offering to help everyone sync their new smartphones with the company email tends to be near the bottom, not the top, when it comes to acquiring new pieces of business.

Questions to consider:

  • Are you more concerned about being a good corporate citizen or delivering your sales numbers?
  • Is the best part of your calendar devoted to your highest payoff activities? Or does prospecting for new business get the scraps and leftover time slots, if any?
  • If you’re not top-producer now, what can you learn by watching how the #1 guy/gal on your sales team spends his/her time?

There are too many salespeople tasked with acquiring new business who’d rather sit in a committee meeting or clean the restrooms than prospect for new accounts. And that’s a problem.

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© 2023 Mike Weinberg

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