Sales Fungus

Are Your Salespeople Infected with Sales Fungus?

Sales Fungus takes many forms. It reveals itself as a brain disease often fatal to the rep’s career if not cured early enough. The effects of an SF Infection are the following:

  1. Sales Fungus infections create what is known as the “delaying syndrome:” Reps delay lead follow-up, delay submitting follow-up information the prospect requests, and fail to deliver a proposal for at least a week, until they are late.
  2. The disease shows up as an inability to listen to the prospect or customer and constantly dominate the conversation.
  3. When a sales manager visits the rep’s territory, the rep never takes the manager to see prospects, only customers.
  4. Sales lead follow-up is reduced from a mandatory 100% to as low as 25%. Salespeople unexpectedly think such follow-up is optional.
  5. From Patrick Morrissey, CMO of Altify and host of Predictable Revenue Radio: One symptom is “I think”. This shows up a lot during forecast calls, account reviews and debriefs from customer meetings. The rep doesn’t really know the real answers, so they tend to have a lot of “I think” in place of definitive evidence or next steps.
  6. When managing the sales pipeline, an SF Infection causes the salesperson to hold back on entering any prospects who are not a sure thing.
  7. The fungus is especially visible when the salesperson fails to update the CRM system after talking to a prospect.
  8. When traveling with his or her manager, the rep suggests they start with breakfast, break for a long lunch, and then insists on an early drop off at the airport. By this time the manager welcomes finding an earlier flight.
  9. Fridays seem to be a day when SF Infections are most visible. The rep can’t seem to answer the phone, answers emails late, and is seldom available in the afternoon.   This has also been known as ‘carwash and cleaner’s pickup day.’
  10. When asked what they want from Marketing, reps will say they want more leads. When Marketing complies, they insist they said they want more ‘qualified leads,’ not more leads.
  11. When the infection matures, the rep will most likely use only email to contact prospects, not the telephone.
  12. Sometimes the illness manifests itself as poor territory management (lots of windshield time), high travel expenses, or even a lack of client visits as the rep hides in his or her office.
  13. In some instances, the sales rep loses the ability to successfully cold call and the pipeline suffers.
  14. One of the most debilitating results of Sales Fungus infections is when the sales rep does follow up a sales lead, but then half the time never follows up a second time. The infection is especially vicious in those situations where the rep prejudges a prospect’s intention to buy.  This inflates the pipeline and misleads management.
  15. The fungus affects the salesperson’s desire to follow up leads given him directly from the company president or sales manager.
  16. Those with a severe case of Sales Fungus lose the ability to negotiate and often discount their products before the prospect knows the price (this is known as self-negotiation).
  17. One of the most visible aspects of an SF infection is when sales reps, at a sales meeting, are asked to discuss their pipeline. The infected ones talk fast and loud, they blame inaction on the prospect, and insist on going over every lead with the same excuse: Marketing gave us bad leads that don’t buy.
  18. In virtually all infections of Sales Fungus, the over-riding symptom is the reps failure to make quota.

Why its Important:

“The over-riding symptom of a Sales Fungus infection is the reps failure to consistently make quota.”

For sales reps infected with Sales Fungus, the future is not totally bleak.  But without help, they seldom make quota (management often believes bad breath, as in ‘poor sales,’ is better than no breath), they keep their jobs, sometimes for years, while the infection rages.

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The cure for Sales Fungus is intense sales training, adherence to company policies, and with insistence that the CRM and pipeline management processes are adhered to.  Sales leads must be followed up 100%.  Oftentimes, however, the Sales Fungus is too advanced, and the rep must be put down (fired).

A dreadful thing occurs when most of the sales reps are infected with Sales Fungus within an organization: the manager gets a dose of it that’s usually fatal to his or her job. It’s very sad.

This post originally appeared March 24, 2019 at

James Obermayer
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