Re sales reports, numbers don’t lie sales people do.

Numbers don’t lie. Sales people do. Numbers don’t lie, trust them. Sales people lie, let them. Numbers don’t lie, trust and manage sales people through them. Sales people lie; let them; they’ll hang themselves when the rope is long enough.  Today’s post is for those in sales leadership.

Why do sales people lie?

First off, sales people can lie to the market (prospects) or about the market (‘It’s saturated’, for instance). They can also lie about their performance, which is what I’ll address.  Most sales reports are Oscar award winning works of fiction. Sales people hate doing reports. And there are many reasons for this, the foremost being it exposes them.  No one wants to tell on themselves how they are not meeting set quota of prospects to visit, presentations, calls or closes to make. Of course all this will be shrouded in, ‘I didn’t have access to a laptop’, ‘the internet was down’, ‘I found the office locked and I didn’t have bundles’, and so on.  Funny thing is, the same sales person will move heaven and earth to have the report done if he has surpassed target.  When in sales leadership role, take the reports you receive with a pinch of salt. 

How can you tell if a sales person is lying?

Can sales people lie to you? Now that you know they can, and likely will, what to do? Sales is a short term tactical game. Sales leadership is a long term strategic one. Many sales people have short attention spans and this serves them well because they are judged by sales they close. When involved in managing their direct day to day selling, the reports are less diluted.

numbers don’t lie sales people do

However, the higher you are in the hierarchy the higher the adulteration is likely to be. Those team leaders, supervisors and managers can conspire for purposes of self-preservation in light of a dwindling departmental sales performance.  At a lower level of management you can read the sales person, or witness and correct their short comings.  Higher up, you receive reports. These reports tell a story. And this story is your gambit with which to catch the lying sales person. Trying to beat him or his bosses at their own game, tactically, will wear you down; and you will lose.

Numbers don’t lie sales people do.

Instead, looking at the numbers in the report the experienced leader ‘naively’ asks the sales person, “I see you saw 16 people last week. Yet you converted 3.”  Is this true? (Pause) The salesperson doesn’t even remember what they wrote. Most submit and instantly forget about the report.  However, you might get a yes response. To which you respond, “That’s good. It’s lower than expected but an improvement from last week. How many prospects do you plan to see next week. (Pregnant pause). The sales person hadn’t thought that far. But now he knows. Big Brother is watching! As for the management team, if the numbers are untrue over time they will have gaping inconsistencies which when outed will expose the lie and align the team.  Sometimes this may come at the price of dismissing the manager responsible for deliberately misleading leadership with falsified reports. Like hips, sales numbers don’t lie


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