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15 Things Salespeople And Sales Managers Should Put On Their Not-To-Do List

Elmer Leterman once wrote, "Human beings in any line of work could double their productive capacity overnight if they began right now to do all the things they know they should do and stop doing all the things they know they should not do." Leterman suggests that we're all standing in our own way on the road to success.

What’s holding us back is that we all love to improvise instead of rely on proven skills and act on what we know is the right course of action.

15 things salespeople should have on their daily not-to-do list:

Don’t waste time chasing unprofitable leads.
Don’t show up late for the call.
Don’t make a call without a plan and preparation.
Don’t pretend to listen; stay focused.
Don’t talk about politics, religion or sex.
Don’t talk about what you like, talk about what the prospect likes.
Don’t talk about features without explaining the benefits.
Don’t quote price before establishing value.
Don’t skip steps in the sales process, stay on track.
Don’t forget to up-sell and cross-sell.
Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
Don’t lie; build trust.
Don’t under-dress or over-dress.
Don’t drink prior to a call; look your best.
Don’t flirt with the staff; be charming.

15 things sales managers should have on their daily not-to-do list:

Don’t make hiring decisions based on your gut instincts alone.
Don’t slip back into the role of the super-salesperson.
Don’t claim you made a sale that you helped create.
Don’t play favorites; be fair to everyone.
Don’t accept incompetence; set the bar high.
Don’t resist change, embrace it.
Don’t reject technology because you don’t understand it.
Don’t mistake sales increases with profitability.
Don’t think that sales training is unnecessary.
Don’t allow salespeople to put their monkeys on your back.
Don’t criticize in public; offer performance feedback in a private setting.
Don’t assign a $10-an-hour job to a $120,000-a-year sales executive.
Don’t push your salespeople to success; lead them by example.
Don’t think that your sales process is perfect; it needs to be renovated all the time.
Don’t hide in your office, crunching numbers; delegate and invigorate yourself.

The magic of the not-to-do list

Think of your to-do list. It takes a lot of work to get things done. Chances are that you are starting the day with 7-10 major action items, and you are lucky if you are able to cross off the first three items by the end of the day. Start a fresh to-do list every day. Don’t agonize, prioritize.

The not-to-do list doesn’t change every day. This list doesn’t take more work on your part; it creates less work for you. It helps you recognize new patterns. It helps you prevent self-defeating actions. Like Michelangelo chipped away all the unnecessary marble from a gigantic block to create a masterpiece, your not-to-do list will bring out the best in you.

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Great article - I'm going to save it on Delicious and tweet it. I like the tip for sales managers to not reject technology because you don't understand it - I work with CRM, and am constantly amazed at how many sales leaders still refuse to embrace the tools that will make their jobs easier and extend their ability to move teams toward their goals.

Christopher Ryan

Gerhard, excellent article and a great reminder of what not to do. I especially like one of those you listed for sales managers: Don’t assign a $10-an-hour job to a $120,000-a-year sales executive. This is a tremendous waste of valuable resources. I read recently that up to 70 percent of a typical sales rep's time is spent in non revenue producing activities. Many of these $10 per hour activities no doubt fall into that bucket.

Daniel M. Wood

Thank you for an interesting article.

As salesmen we are taught to always focus on the positive and never the negative.
In many ways this is good. But as you say it often closes our eyes to the negative things we are doing.

The list you have provided us reminds us that even though we focus on the positive parts of sales we should not forget to look at our own weaker sides.

I especially liked that one of your points was to build trust. I have always felt and always spread that you should focus on your customers. One recurring customer is usually worth more than 10 one-time customers.

Well thanks again.

//Daniel M. Wood

Kathy Tito

Don’t assign a $10-an-hour job to a $120,000-a-year sales executive.

Love it! With so many different aspects to the sales creation process, requiring so many different skill sets - this actually happens.

For example, when senior closers are assigned responsibility for things like database cleanup, or list generation, collateral fulfillment, etc. Not that these tasks should leverage at $10 per hour employee, but you get the point.

Thanks for that!

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