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4 Types of Salespeople Who Lack Momentum

(An expanded excerpt from Chapter 2, The Momentum Sales Model)

Let’s face it, in sales whether you’re working alone or as part of a team, there are a number of stereotypes of salespeople that you might encounter.

The thing to recognise is even though some of them might look or present themselves like they are top performers let’s be clear, they are not – the numbers and how the got them speak for themselves.

Let’s have a quick look.

The Yo-yo-er

This guy is everything but consistent, his attitude to sales is to blast out 180 emails in a day and then sit back a relax for the rest of the week figuring that that should be enough to get the job done.

Whilst emails are an important way to make an impact, they don’t create the impact in and of themselves.

Unfortunately, his attitude towards sales is the problem. He doesn’t like being told what to do, thinks he knows better than the Sales Director or Sales Team Leader and outwardly express his dissatisfaction with sales meetings, deeming them a waste of time.

He freely express this to the rest of the sales team and whilst he is a likeable character, unfortunately his blasé “I’ve heard it all before, I have 7 years’ experience, I’ve been around the block, I know what I’m doing” attitude holds him back from ever reaching the top.

Key problems at work:

  • Highly stressed in peaks and troughs – his work life is like a rollercoaster

  • Stressed about the amount of work needed, then exhausted from the 200+ email bursts of activity that they skive off for the rest of the week taking it easy and give themselves a pat on the back.

  • Surrounded by internal fear, anxiety and doubt

  • Ends in burnout and confusion

  • Chases the sale so hard it runs right back out the door

  • Has a tough time with self-discipline

  • Feels “got at” by the boss, targeted

  • Feels they would be better off without advice or additional training

  • Talks badly about the company to clients

  • Worries internally about sales meetings but presents a casual attitude towards them outwardly

  • Has a reel of excuses rather than solutions

  • Blames the product, clients, working environment, competitors and market for poor results.

Key problems outside of work:

  • Angry with partner who doesn’t understand the pressure

  • Constantly worried about money and bills

  • Is passive aggressive and resentful

  • Gets smashed after a hard week because he deserves it

  • Has a half in half out attitude to life

  • Points the finger and feels like a victim

  • Hangs around people than make him feel like he’s doing enough, in reality he is afraid of people that will push him to do more

  • Over compensates in other areas of life

The Ego Maniac

This guy won’t let you in. He’s in turmoil inside. He needs help big time, but his ego won’t let him ask for it, be taught or go anywhere near how he really feels, especially when it comes to his sales ability.

He hates feeling less intelligent or inferior to anyone else. Deep down he knows this is his problem and no one can make him feel this way but with his ego running the show he gets himself into many unnecessary disagreements and battles for superiority.

The fact of the matter is he’s insecure, yet it plays out as arrogance. He’s uncooperative when he wants to be which means he can get isolated from senior people that could help him and he tends to hang out with people just like him. Birds of a feather rings true here.

Detrimental to his success, he struggles with sharing information, mainly for fear that his boss will take all the credit, which indicates again his lack of real confidence in his abilities. He is competitive and wants to win on his own, not as a team.

He outwardly expresses that he wants to be two positions higher than he is but can’t for the life of him figure out why he isn’t being promoted. After all, he knows more about the technical aspects of the business, the detail, how things used to work, the history, he’s nostalgic and scared of new joining people in the team especially if they are coming in higher than him.

He keeps his client relationships close and openly moans to them about the internal organization structure, pain points and company ongoings.

Safe to say, this guy is so blinded by his own ego that he fails to see how he’s pushing opportunities away, stepping on toes and generally missing out of the full potential of his life.

Key problems at work:

  • Anger

  • Seething underneath

  • Questions authority (difficult to manage which causes more tension)

  • Has obvious favourites in leadership

  • Becomes disengaged and potentially disruptive

  • Taking a free ride (sitting in the company for years doing not much)

  • Is possessive of clients, client patches and information

  • Dislikes sudden change which holds sales back, common phrases include “we used to do it like this”, “we tried that but it didn’t work”

  • Likes to control the conversation and strategically asks leading questions

  • Is dishonest, takes shortcuts and manipulates to get what he wants

Key problems outside of work:

  • Has a hard time not complaining about work and this affects his personal relationships.

  • Is pessimistic and as a result doesn’t expect things to his way so he invites more problems into his life.

  • Lets his ego rule through external validation and keeping up with the Joneses as a result he doesn’t experience fulfilment.

  • Lives in the past and keeps company the is stuck and easy to feel like a success when around.

  • Feels like a victim and is worried about not keeping up appearances rather than investing in skill development.

  • Has to rely on other people to save money e.g. without the safety net of parents he wouldn’t have any savings.

  • He’s jealous of others success and resentful.

  • Is doubtful and skeptical of investment opportunities so when good ones arise only sees the downside as a result, he misses the opportunity to multiply his wealth

  • Fearful of not being ‘cool enough’ and tends to be involved with immature pranks and waste time.

The Workhorse/Goody Two Shoes

This salesperson is considered a top seller by the organization, but the amount of work they put in to get there is unsustainable, which means it they are not really a top seller, it is an illusion that will collapse like a house of cards along with their self-esteem when hard times comes.

Unfortunately, they tend to think in a linear manner e.g., number of hours = sales revenue rather than exponentially e.g., leverage = sales revenue.

Leverage in sales can mean developing and hiring a successful team, deploying a killer strategy at the right time, building solid partner relationship who acts as an extension of your sales team and sells for you, thus multiplying your results. When you scale and have leverage it’s having the Momentum sales model in place and working for you.

The issue with this goody two shoes is they are way too caught up in their own world, they need the control to feel safe and without having a tight grasp on every last detail they feel threatened, insecure and hate to relinquish any control. Therefore, any success they have is restricted by an invisible ceiling. Any team they manage feels completely micromanaged, distrusted, and frustrated by their behaviour and so push back causing the goody two shoes to tighten up even further. World class sellers know that spreading your momentum far and wide will have network effects far greater than you can produce alone.

The workhorse works 12-14-hour days, doing all the extra admin, he has a tight overview of his clients but doesn’t cope with spontaneous changes, new clients or patch changes.

He’s like an ocean liner that can’t course correct quickly or a body builder who only lifts weights but doesn’t stretch before or after, flexibility is not a priority and eventually he breaks.

The irony is having this level of control over all clients looks good to the organization, they applaud it, he can quickly pull any numbers needed and give a status update of every deal. However, for the seller it is wreaking havoc to his mental capacity everything and becomes a huge weight to lift daily. Naturally this affects decision making, team building and the ability to delegate, as he must do all tasks himself.

Unfortunately, when things go wrong (as they inevitably do from time to time), this inflexibility often spills over into other departments who bear the brunt of his fury.

In a word, he doesn’t have a life. Being at the top is where he feels stable and confident however it is an illusion and when a momentum seller joins the team he feels threatened and insecure.

Often goody too shoes type of salespeople get picked to be leaders but then struggle with letting go and are terrible micro-managers, this forces any talented people they manage to leave their job.

Instead of empowering their people they suffocate them.

As we know, it’s not a straight line in sales, curve balls, hurdles and problems arise all the time and when they do, this person’s mental stamina breaks down. They literally give up and get angry at the very people and departments that are trying to help them.

This explosion of emotion happens because they worked so hard for the sale that they can’t cope with anything going wrong (this is the inflexible part coming to light). They are hyper perfectionists, having everything in its proper place and the perception of top seller is their focus.

Sadly, for them, it’s not scalable, replicable and is difficult to instil in other salespeople.

The cherry on top is that they feel entitled to the sale, let down and super stressed when it doesn’t go right, is downsized or the sale falls through completely. They rule with an iron fist and it’s a hard gig to stay at the top.

Key problems at work:

  • You can spot a Workhorse/Goody Two Shoes because their day-to-day is frantic, over scheduled, and importantly contains no time for reflection.

  • They don’t have a scalable strategy, when the workload reaches a critical point they go into overdrive and then get sick rather than asking for help.

  • They are reactive, however they are careful to protect their image so spend countless hours covering up mistakes and try to hide the fact that their strategy is to blindly work more than everyone else.

  • Low tolerance for others’ mistakes, judgement creeps in easily and this hinders their ability to make solid relationships and influence.

  • Proactive out of fear rather than excellence – there is a big difference and clients feel it. It’s the difference between taking proactive action through a fear-based mindset “I need this sale to stay at the top of the leaderboard” vs a momentum based mindset “I always operate as a top seller, it’s part of my identity and who I am whatever happens, it would be amazing to get this sale as well but if doesn’t happen it’s not critical to my self-worth or my numbers”. You’ll see in the first example they base their self-worth on external validation, if they aren’t at the top then they start to doubt their abilities, freak out and start thinking of taking a different career, it happens as quickly as 1-2 months of bad months of sales. What kind of mental resilience is that! Not what you want.

  • They are close to being a real top seller, but they don’t have it yet and they know it (deep down when they take a close analysis of themselves.

  • Anxious, clingy, needy, quick to panic and go to extremes when things go wrong, self-absorbed. E.g. I’ve worked so hard for this sale I deserve the commission now at whatever cost.

  • They don’t see the bigger picture because they are only focused on the minutiae. To clarify the bigger picture is their career, bigger more lucrative deals, where they want to be next year, which all gets missed.

  • Hard to coach when experiencing success then need incredible amounts of help when experiencing a down monthly or quarter.

  • Have a difficult time delegating and letting go of clients, considered ‘my’ clients instead of ‘our’ clients

Key problems outside of work:

  • Faces a real threat of burnout

  • Gets smashed after a hard week because they deserve it

  • Work takes precedence, hard to find a work life balance with significant other

  • They’re not having any fun, like real fun, by this I mean outside interests

  • Panicked by every little thing at work

  • Deep down they don’t feel like a success

  • Feel the need to escape but no time to enjoy life

  • Insecure and can be negative about others

  • Tends to gossip

The Excuse-Maker

This salesperson has an excuse for everything. Instead of their being a problem-solver, he default to accepting whatever his clients say and making excuses for low sales. He doesn’t understand that sales is supposed to be full of challenges.

He gets involved and wound up by office politics, gossip and drama. He spends time bitching on private calls rather than hustling in front of clients. He sticks to the same old contacts rather than expanding his net. He feels like he has done all he can, used all the tools and are poor feedback takers.

This really sucks, because given his attitude and poor sales figures, he is likely to get feedback, and lots of it. His inability to see how his excuses and general victim ‘poor me’ type behaviour affects his sales figures and makes everything worse. It is blindingly obvious to management what’s wrong, but they give up because they don’t know how to inspire them to greatness. He’s in the firing line but not quite bad enough to be let go.

It’s a vicious circle. His excuses make sense (to him at least it’s not like they’re completely made up. They are often around facts of business like a competitor lowering their prices, or a client who doesn’t want what he has to offer. They are facts, but wouldn’t stop a problem solver or a top seller. The contrast between a top seller and an excuse maker is huge, they are nearly polar opposites when it comes to their mentality. A top seller is focused solely on the opportunity and how they can make things work, an excuse maker is in a land of pity, victimhood and laziness.

Key problems at work:

  • Says the same things each week, like a parrot, is predictable and operates at 40-50% capacity.

  • Not poor enough to get fired, but always very close

  • Is on the manager’s radar as a poor performer every time

  • Attitude is positive outwardly, actions are negative. Sends 20-30 emails a week

  • Thinks small.

  • Is not really engaged

  • On cruise control

  • Causes issues when new people join with patch changes, old clients moving to new person, commission, tries to take new sales from new employees and claim ownership

  • Can be a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

  • Nice on the surface to every, taking the piss on the inside and in it for a cushy life and whatever comes their way with not too much effort.

  • They love to eat low hanging fruit all day long rather than challenge themselves

  • Don’t have a bigger vision for their career

  • Often get sidelined, demoted, moved out of the way of top performers.

  • Have opinions about the leadership but are VERY careful with who they share them with

  • Manipulate situations to their advantage

  • Cause tension with their boss and other salespeople

  • Seen as dead weight internally by management

  • Are friendly to others but not helpful

  • A bit of a taker, get others to do their work

  • Can be a victim

  • Is seen a mile off and avoided by world-class salespeople

Key problems outside of work

  • Can be lazy, looking for the short cut and as a result have poor personal health and fitness

  • Prefers to be average, rationalising that ‘it’s not that bad’

  • Keeps company of a similar status not raising the bar

  • Loves talking about the old days

  • Possible anger and insecurity spills out at home

  • Feeling underpaid compared to where they want to be and perhaps feeling of being further behind in savings, investments and plans.

There you have it, four of the most common salespeople you might meet along the way.

Of course, these just focus on the bad actors, the salespeople that aren’t going anywhere. There are also a bunch of really talented salespeople who just need a few tweaks to get better and transform into momentum sellers.

Download the PDF version here.

Chapter 2 Types of Salespeople Who Lack Momentum (Expanded)
Download PDF • 169KB

Check out The Momentum Sales Model Intro Video for more.


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