Hang the Sales Person

There is a recurring post on LinkedIn and other social media that perplexes me: business leaders complaining about salespeople. I see a lot of CISOs do this.  The posts typically sound like this:

“Hey vendors, here is a sure-fire way to wind up in my ‘never do business’ list,’ send me an unsolicited email asking for a meeting. BAM! I am never working with you!!!” You need to understand what it’s like to be a CISO, you’re not in my chair!!!!!

or maybe this one…

“I got another email from a salesperson who did not take the time to do their homework . These people do not understand how … (insert rant here)”

I read these posts, roll my eyes, and think: How dare salespeople have the audacity to want to talk with you!

This article in Forbes from a while back follows along these same lines, although in a less passive aggressive manner. It is not a bad article, but it still perpetuates the notion that all salespeople are unwelcome and need to be put in their place.

Why do people who claim to be leaders feel the need to aggressively complain about salespeople?

Insecure Leadership

I believe this is a variation on the Imposter Syndrome. Leaders who feel insecure in their abilities mistakenly believe the only way to demonstrate their authority (and importance) is to lash out at people they deem beneath them. They conflate cruelty and aggression with leadership.

This behavior demonstrates a fundamental inability to prioritize what is important.  It is ironic that leaders who complain about salespeople demanding their precious time, have plenty of time to complain about salespeople demanding their time. Furthermore, I doubt the job description for these leaders includes an expectation to whine on social media about how tough it is to do their job.

Unfortunately, all this whining works. While it does not stop the harassing sales calls, it does attract other weak leaders who share a similar need to berate people. Consequently, the weak leader gets what they really want: validation.

Innovative ideas can arise from anywhere, even annoying salespeople. Perhaps the product they are selling is excellent, they simply lack effective communication skills. A good leader can see through this and focus on the message, not the messenger.

Admittedly, harassing marketing is annoying (I wrote about this recently). There are ways to combat it. You can challenge the designs or question the company’s messaging. You can also say “no thank you” or hit the delete key. All these methods are effective, without disrespecting the messengers (salespeople.)

Being a leader means respecting people, even irritating people. You do not need to give annoying salespeople your time. However, posting self-indulgent rants about salespeople solves nothing. All it does is telegraph to the world that you are a jerk.

Now, will sales ever be sane again? I wonder to myself.

For culture reference, this title is derived from the song Panic from the Smiths


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