Basic fact: if a business doesn't make sales it goes out of business. You'd think most entrepreneurs and executives would realize this but, surprisingly, many treat their salespeople like crap.

Here's a list of the idiotic ways that companies alienate their salespeople:

  1. Change the compensation plan after hiring the sales rep so that it drastically reduces the compensation that's actually paid.
  2. Change the demographic of prospects every two weeks thereby discarding any progress made towards closing an actual sale.
  3. Constantly refer to your salespeople as "friction" that needs to be removed from your business model.
  4. Create marketing materials that describe features and functions but fail to explain why or how anybody might use the product.
  5. Create product lines that aren't reasonably debugged or field worthy, thereby murdering the sales rep's reputation.
  6. Demand sales increases and then fail to compete on bids after the rep got your product specified.
  7. Discourage engineers from talking to salespeople because it would a "waste of good engineering time."
  8. Don't pay commissions until the salespeople have spent hours entering data into your clunky CRM system.
  9. Encourage your engineers to think of your salespeople as "sales weasels" rather than the only reason the engineers get a paycheck.
  10. Fail to provide competitive analysis leaving the rep to figure out how to fight off attacks from the other guys.
  11. Force salespeople to fill out expense forms at the $1 level when the customer is buying at the $1m level.
  12. Force your salespeople to use "corporate messages" that reflect your own firms internal politics rather than something meaningful to your customers.
  13. Have a sales rep build up business in a company then declare it a 'house account' that doesn't pay a commission.
  14. Hire a different sales training firm every year, even though each firm teaches techniques that contradict previously-learned techniques.
  15. Hire more sales reps for a region than revenue from that region can support so they'll all compete for the same business.
  16. Ignore a customer base that buys consistently in favor of higher-ticket prospects that are difficult or impossible to close.
  17. Insist that all contact info belongs to the company and demand all copies when the sales rep leaves the company.
  18. Keep dumping more and more responsibilities on the same size sales force, with no additional support.
  19. Know that a product is on back-order indefinitely but still encouraging your sales reps to sell it.
  20. Let a new rep bootstrap his or her income by cherry picking accounts belonging to another rep.
  21. Let fresh-out-of-college marketers (who've never sold anything in their lives) tell seasoned sales people how they "should" be selling.
  22. Limit the sales reps' access within your own firm to minor players so that they don't "get in the hair" of top management.
  23. Make the compensation plan incomprehensible and then make the rep fight for every red cent.
  24. Make the most popular products unavailable to the reps especially if demonstrating is key to closing a sale.
  25. Neglect to provide product training so that sales reps must "wing it" when asked technical questions.
  26. Offer a better price on the web site than the sales team can offer directly to the customers.
  27. Openly praise reps who set an impossibly high target while demeaning the ones who set practical ones.
  28. Openly wonder why salespeople make commissions because, after all, your products "sell themselves."
  29. Overload your sales staff with administrative reporting and trackers that take up time that could be spent selling.
  30. Permit discounts in order to close business but then force the rep to demand customers pay full price.
  31. Promise the reps commissions but hold off paying them until the end of the quarter or the end of the fiscal year.
  32. Promise to support a new product and then produce zero case histories, sales tools or training.
  33. Raise the quota every month at least 10% so that nobody ever achieves a commission check.
  34. Save all the best leads for the top rep and send the questionable ones to the other reps, just in case they might get lucky.
  35. Set a sales target but without any sensible sales strategy that would make it possible to achieve that target.
  36. Set ambitious targets intended to impress top management when you know that the reps cannot really achieve them.
  37. Spend big money on an ad campaign that has no tie-in to the products that the reps are actually expected to sell.
  38. Treat your salespeople as if they were brain-dead idiots because they don't have advanced degrees.
  39. Update the website without telling the sales team, so customers can tell the rep what's new in their own product set.
  40. Use phrases like "you've been overpaid" when making changes to the compensation plan.
  41. Wait until a rep is about to bring in a large account and then cap commissions so to reduce the compensation.
  42. Wishfully believe that none of this crap is happening in your firm even though you read through this entire list.