Complete Story


Is Your Sales Team Fat, Dumb, and Happy?

by John Chapin

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all, and 10 is a perfect description, how does your sales organization rate according to the following definitions? 

Fat: Enough clients and business to sustain you for the short term coupled with no consistent effort at chasing new business. Everyone is simply living off of current accounts and otherwise killing time during the workweek.   

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10    

Dumb: Mediocre to poor sales skills with no interest in developing good to great sales skills. No training initiatives for professional or personal development.      

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 

Happy: Comfortable because everyone can pay their bills and they’re not missing any meals. 

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

A 6 or higher on any one of these is a big problem. A 6 or higher on two of these is a major problem. And a 6 or higher on all three is an extremely urgent problem and a recipe for disaster. Sales organizations that have problems in the above areas usually also exhibit one or more of the following traits:

So how did your organization rate? If you have a problem, is it something you want to address, or are you “happy” with mediocrity and simple survival? Usually at this point I’m hit with something like: “We should improve BUT,…” one of the following excuses: “It’ll be too much work”, “I’m wearing too many hats and I have no time”, and/or “My people won’t change and I can’t force them to.”

First, none of those are true. It doesn’t take a Herculean effort or take a ton of time and your people will change if they see a benefit to changing. That said, step one is to make the decision. If you’re considering staying poor or average, let me give you some food for thought. For starters, we all know it’s better to be at the top, winning. Just ask any of the top sports teams or top organizations in any industry. You might also want to ask the ones at the bottom what it’s like to lose. It sucks. But if you’re fat, dumb, and happy you’re already experiencing anywhere from a little to a lot of suck. Next, do you feel like you have an obligation and a duty to the organization you take money from? What about your obligation to the people affected by how well or badly your organization runs? If your organization is sub-standard, the client is being hurt. You also have the people who work at the company and their families. Finally, what about you and the people who are important to you? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? The college educations, the weddings, perhaps taking care of your parents, or being able to absorb a catastrophic health issue for you or a loved one? How about the dream home, the vacations, retirement, or maybe a lasting legacy that lives on long after you’re gone? Mere survival doesn’t allow any of those. Finally, is your time on Earth going to be defined as “mediocre”, and is that going to be your legacy once you’re gone? Just some things to consider. If, on the other hand, you’ve decided to change, here are three steps that can go a long way:

Step 1) Set the vision and ask everyone for their help.

Ask people what kind of organization they want to be part of. Highlight the fact that we spend more waking hours at work than at home and ask if it might be better to enjoy the process a little bit more. Ask if we (the whole team) have an obligation to clients, our families, and ourselves to do the best job possible and have the best lives possible. Ask what example we want to set for our kids and the other important people in our lives. We want our kids to give their best in school and other activities, should we be doing the same at work? I mean, if the job’s worth doing, is it worth doing well, or do we want to be average? Do we want to be the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers (insert favorite, great team here), or the Cleveland Browns (or other losing team)? Let them choose to get on board and be part of, or not be part of, a new positive, growing organization. 

Step 2) Set expectations and hold people accountable to those expectations.

When you set the expectations, you have to let people know that sales is not a 9 to 5 job. If they’re going to make it, it’s going to take a ton of work, resilience, and persistence. Especially in the beginning they’re going to need to learn the product, your procedures, and maybe even the industry if they’re new to it. Depending upon their sales skills, they may also need to spend a lot of time developing those. You should have set those parameters in the beginning, but if you didn’t, some veterans may have to get to work too. Also, in the new atmosphere, we’re now going to hold people accountable to their quotas. You know who can sell and who can’t. You’ve known since the first week based upon attitude and motivation level. You’re going to have to get tough here. If you’d like, you can delegate this by hiring a great sales coach who can take on the responsibilities of training, monitoring results, and holding people accountable. The key here is to require the slackers to step up or step out. 

Step 3) Provide training, tools, and resources.

Put the support people and systems in place and provide sales training. You want your producers spending their day on sales activities, not paperwork and administrative details. Also, when they are selling you want them as effective as possible. This is an upfront investment that will return tenfold and make you one of the top organizations around. 

The choice is yours. You know you need to change. If not now, when? The year 2000 was 18 years ago. Seems like yesterday. Tomorrow is 2036. Change before it’s too late. It simply takes a commitment to raise your standards, reset expectations, and ask others to raise their game… If for nothing else, for themselves and their families. To prove to themselves and others what they’re capable of. To ensure that at their end of their lives, they’re not on their deathbed with regrets, wondering “what if”, and neither are you.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to:  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail:



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