Whether it’s recalling bagsful of candy or toilet papering a house, Halloween holds a certain nostalgic appeal. Though most adults know that the dead won’t rise, witches are just lonely cat ladies, and the masked figure on your porch is probably a kid in search of Snickers, it’s still fun to remember the times you feared a full moon, walking home alone, and the monsters under your bed. For sales professionals, however, some scenarios are truly frightening, and they stay with us through several sequels. In honor of the sweetest and scariest holiday, here are a few of the things that keep sales professionals up at night:
Phantom of the CRM
Without a doubt, the CRM has been one of the most important inventions in sales. It’s a technological marvel with the ability to store, track, and leverage data around the buyer’s journey–until you confront the human element and realize it was poorly implemented, houses a lot of incomplete and outdated client and firmographic data, as well as inactive plug-ins. In addition, you don’t have a dedicated administrator on your team. Perhaps some horribly disfigured tech wiz will secretly support it for those he cares for.
While masks are an essential part of Halloween, they’re the last thing salespeople need when researching prospects. How often have you scoured social media, scanned posts, and evaluated countless pictures, not to mention studied so many articles, press releases, and news announcements you no longer know the line between sales professional and stalker. You knew this contact better than their family, until you meet and discover their profile was a carefully calculated façade–though they thankfully lack a camera and the need to capture the fear of their victims. Even unmasked, like Jason, Michael, or any of the other psychos of our nightmares, they’re still enigmas we’ll never understand.
A Quiet Place
It doesn’t have to be Halloween for salespeople to confront the ghosts of customers past. One day they assure you the deal is done and they’re just awaiting sure-thing final approval from their friend, the VP of purchasing, and then crickets. You text. You call. You email. Three days go by, then the weekend. Surely, you’ll hear something on Monday. You may never discover the reason for their bizarre silence.
Let the Right Clients In
A close cousin of the disappearing customer and another Halloween classic is the monster client, the ones you regret taking on. With their stiff-legged walk, arms straight out, they bulldoze their way through everyone, barking orders at you and your staff, making unreasonable demands, and constantly reminding everyone who will listen that you are not the only salesperson out there. Eventually, we must all confront this nightmare head on and decide if they are worth the time, effort, and abuse or if we should grab some pitchforks and run him out of town.
Sadly, not every sales manager is a great sales manager. And many of us have had to work for those who left something to be desired. Though we looked forward to working with and learning from someone whose sales skills preceded them, sometimes their coaching or leadership skills were limited to mere pep talks or, worse, were harsh and impatient. You wonder what it would be like to sell with more support, like a detailed analysis of calls and engagement, overcoming objections, nailing a presentation, but you work remotely now, and like characters in countless movies, no one will even hear you scream.
A Nightmare on Quota Street
Perhaps nothing keeps salespeople up at night as much as quota. Let’s face it. It’s a number you have to reach. Though its importance can vary by organization, it can make salespeople feel like they’re captive in a subterranean pit that is quickly filling with water while an unseen malevolent force pulls the safety rope just out of reach. It’s something out of an Edgar Allan Poe story or a movie featuring Vincent Price as some mysterious, vaguely European Count de Quota, a sadist with a sinister laugh we hear behind every prospect.
Ghost in the Machine
If you ever find yourself in a horror movie, you can be assured of a few things: when you need it most, the landline will not work, the cellphone won’t have a signal, and the car that faithfully started throughout the first hour of the film will not turn over. Similarly, as a remote sales professional, you should know the technology will fail. Whether it’s just before the big presentation or, even more suspenseful, right in the middle, the images will pixilate, the sound will cut out, and the signal will fade with your hope of landing the client.
Like the conventions of horror movies, every profession has its own terrors, and no matter how much experience we have or success we achieve, we all have our unique rational and irrational fears. Whether it’s a momentary lapse and we mess something up or the technology fails just when we need it, they say to err is human. While many indulge their fears on Halloween, it’s important to remember the otherworldly figures—witches, vampires, and supernatural slashers—are representations of our own insecurities. For salespeople, no matter the nightmare that keeps you up, you are not alone. So always heed the warning of the creepy townsfolk at the run-down roadside gas station, never go into the woods, and just keep selling through the sequel. Have a save and happy Halloween!