This is one I’ve seen several times over my (getting long) career. Someone is one of the top performers in a sales team and they still get sacked. How is this possible?
The trick is be super customer-focused and take the opposite approach when dealing with people in your own company.
The person that achieves this trick often says “I’m too busy selling to deal with the political nonsense in my company.”
You have a boss
The problem with this is that when you are in sales you likely have a boss and maybe a boss’s boss etc.
When you don’t deal with the “nonsense in your company” you tend to not use your “smooth selling skills” with your colleagues. You can come across as unpleasant to your colleagues, or even rude.
These colleges may well be in other departments but eventually they report into the top of your company. Somewhere in the reporting tree there is a boss who starts hearing that one of his team cannot play well with the other parts of the team.
The irony, of course, is that these same sales people are often hyper-sensitive to every word they say or write to a client. When they talk to clients they are very pleasant and polite. It can be a real Jekyll & Hyde show.
Clients want you to play nicely together
Research has shown that one of the top things that clients want from sales people is the ability to muster resources to solve the client’s problem.
This often involves getting people from diverse departments in your company to stretch a little to provide a non-standard solution for you.
Guess how humans that work in these departments react when they need to go the extra yard for a sales person? Being liked as another human is a factor.
Source: Harvard Business Review
There is always politics
Here’s what I’ve concluded: There will always be politics in any company of two people, or more.
The reason is we all have goals and personal agendas. There’s nothing wrong about that. We’re all marching to our own agenda and not always sharing why are doing this. From this “stew” comes politics.
In sales we consider this politics something to manage when it’s happening in a client company. One of my favorite sales frameworks, in Miller Heiman’s Strategic Selling, shows sales people how to navigate the politics of a target account to make a big sale.
Try applying this same kind of framework to your own company. Your own company has decision-makers, gatekeepers and users. Work the system. If you work it, it will work for you. You can only abstain from politics, you can make it work for, or against you.
Be an internal seller
If you want to maximize your sales career, apply the knowledge you have of sales to your own company, not just your prospect and client accounts. Always be selling (aka be nice and be aware of what people want) and you may well get the steak knives instead of cleaning out your desk.