September 14

The Slow Creep of Sales Mediocrity


The slow creep of mediocrity doesn’t make a lot of noise and can silently infiltrate your sales organization. No warning signs, no neon lights flashing “MEDIOCRITY.” It’s mission? To tempt you and your sales team to settle for good enough selling attitudes and behaviors.  

It takes a sharp, self-aware sales leader, grounded in reality, to hear the warning bells of mediocrity. It takes a self-aware sales leader who refuses to accept the status quo. It takes a courageous sales leader to take appropriate actions to ensure continued excellence.   

Let’s explore the habits of successful sales leaders who know how to thwart the slow creep of mediocrity.  

#1. Bask In Success While Avoiding Arrogance. Enjoy success and be aware of the downside of success. Success can be a double-edged sword. As the accolades pour in, the cousin of arrogance starts leaking in. The moment your sales team starts believing their own press releases, mediocrity gains a foothold in your organization. Arrogance leads to over confidence, often preventing salespeople from stop seeking advice and wisdom.

Arrogance breeds complacency which tempts salespeople to stop doing the very behaviors that created their success.

Jim Collins, author of “How the Mighty Fall,” documents the decline of once great companies. He and his research team found that hubris was the first stage of decline. Past success led many to forgot about taking care of their core business. Others were in denial because of prior success so they turned a blind eye to necessary changes.  

The fix. Stay humble and hungry. Ask your sales team to thank and give credit to other departments that help them achieve success. This practice builds humility, gratitude and teamwork.

It keeps arrogance away because your team understands it takes a sales village to win and retain business. One rock star cannot scale a company. 

Remind your team that when you are the top dog, there is a BIG target on your back. The underdogs are hungry, looking to be king or queen of the hill. AND, they are executing the sales activity, behaviors and drive that made your sales organization a success.

Stay hungry and humble.  

#2: Keep Good Company. We adopt the habits and mindset of those we hang with. It’s called emotional contagion. Human beings tend to copy similar emotions and behaviors in others.

As a sales leader, it’s critical to make sure that your team is comprised of individuals that are driven to achieve, willing to help others, lifelong learners and highly coachable. Without these attributes, your sales team will become victims of mediocrity.

The fix. ABR - Always be recruiting. This sales leadership behavior requires the EQ skill of delayed gratification because you must put in the work of recruiting before you have an opening. By doing so, you avoid the trap of settling for average salespeople when you're in a rush to fill a vacancy.

Remember, mediocrity loves urgency, and urgency leads to compromise. To maintain a high-performing team, prioritize long-term success over short-term convenience.

Effective sales leaders are courageous and willing to make difficult decisions. While you may have team members who were once exceptional, circumstances can sometimes lead them down the path of mediocrity.

You may have salespeople who resist changes in their selling approaches, convinced that their old methods are "just fine" in our ever-evolving world.

Others neglect their physical and mental well-being, showing up to work tired, anxious, and ultimately less productive.

As a sales leader, it's crucial to recognize these warning signs and take action.

Make sure your sales team is keeping good company because human beings adopt the mindset, attitudes and behaviors of others.

Let’s look at an inspiring example from my home state of Colorado. Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders is in his first season as the head football coach at the University of Colorado. He took over a dismal record, however, refused to settle for mediocrity. Coach Prime recruited nearly 60 new transfers. Only 25 on his 112-man roster are returning players. I am guessing some tough decisions; courageous decisions were made in upgrading this team.

The good news is they started the season with a victory over No.17 TCU and recently celebrated a week 2 win over Nebraska. It’s early in the season, however, a great reminder to heed the wise words of Steve Maraboli. “If you hang out with the chickens, you’re going to cluck (and I might add complain.) If you hang out with the eagles, you’re going to fly."

Steer clear of the slow creep of sales mediocrity and fly with the eagles. Recognize the early warning signs of arrogance and complacency. Always be recruiting. Have the courage to upgrade your team.

Then, enjoy that beautiful view from the top of the hill.

Good Selling!


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