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3 Reasons Why Your Sales Floor Is Too Quiet and What to Do About It

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One of my primary objectives is to unify key departments within companies to drive business growth, and diagnosing issues in the sales department is often my first step. One problem I can sense immediately when I step onto a sales floor is what I have dubbed “Quiet Selling Syndrome.”

I get squirmy when I walk into a room with outside salespeople because of two things: the salespeople are all there, and it’s too quiet.

I’m not expecting those frenetic scenes from movies like Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, and The Pursuit of Happyness. Though very realistic of those periods, we’ve come a long way from most of those intense sales tactics.

Shawn Karol Sandy smiling with the logo of the selling agency
(Shawn Karol Sandy, Founder & Chief Revenue Officer of The Selling Agency)

How much time are salespeople actually spending engaging with customers?

Still, the phone is the number one tool for sales communication, with 92% of customer interactions taking place over the phone. So when I’m walking through a room full of sellers at 10:30 am on a Tuesday and see everyone staring at their computers, I can’t help but think we have identified a probable cause for slow revenue.

According to Alexander Group, the average salesperson spends less than 15% of their time engaging with customers and building relationships. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

I’ve observed and shadowed dozens of sales pros to see how they spend their day, and the results might make your toes curl.

But what are the sales reps doing?

When I step onto a quiet sales floor, my first instinct is to find out what’s keeping the sales reps from engaging with customers. After all, the sales floor should be buzzing with activity, not shrouded in silence.

To understand the root of this issue, I’ve spoken directly with sales reps and discovered a range of activities that occupy their time—most of which are far removed from direct selling. Here’s what they shared:

  • Researching prospects
  • Crafting emails
  • Answering internal emails
  • Connecting on LinkedIn
  • Engaging on social media
  • Filling out reports
  • Prepping for calls
  • Logging activity in their CRM
  • Talking to other salespeople about prospects and deals in progress
  • Handling operations issues around client orders
  • Dealing with billing/accounting issues for current clients
  • Complaining about crappy leads
  • Complaining about lack of leads
  • Complaining about the website
  • In meetings
  • In training
  • Reviewing performance metrics
  • Creating proposals
  • Following up on administrative tasks
  • Attending networking events

Wow. Sounds like a lot of ways to avoid picking up the phone and talking to people.

And for outbound sales programs, this is a circular problem.

When salespeople spend so much time on non-selling activities, the sales floor becomes too quiet, leading to slower revenue growth.

Why is everyone sitting here, behind their computers, in the office?

Because they don’t have any meetings. They’re not getting face-to-face with prospective new customers because they’re not picking up the phone—which is where you make meetings happen.

Many sellers today are hiding behind their desks. They’re cowering behind email—hoping their magic messages create incredible responses (which, truthfully, can happen, occasionally, and with stellar efforts).

They’re spending a lot of “hope” on social media thinking “likes and shares” will win them favor with their 2,329 connections. They’re hesitant to make calls without all the right information and are researching prospects to death—which, of course, yields zero results.


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There are 3 root causes to “Quiet Selling Syndrome”

1. Sales process

If your sellers spend their time doing everything BUT contacting prospective customers, part of the problem might be that they are lost or lack direction in a sales process.

Without a road map that defines the successful activities and tools necessary to reach, compel, and convert customers, your sellers are spending their time guessing what those next steps might be. And because no one-off email or LinkedIn message is usually successful, they flounder in this state of “what to do” when what they’ve tried hasn’t worked.

Without more plays to execute, their persistence falters (and then you hear complaining about not having enough prospects).

2. Leadership

In small organizations, there is often a lack of sales leadership to maintain sole focus on sales productivity and supporting the sellers. The business owner is the chief sales officer, in addition to being the CEO and about 38 other things.

When your principal leadership is pulled in many directions OR is actually doing what they should, which is steering the vessel, it’s hard to have a productive and effective sales team. Sellers—even the best ones—need direction, feedback, motivation (beyond commission), and inspiration to stay focused and achieve their goals.

If you’re the business owner overseeing the sales team, how would you rate yourself as a full-time sales director? How much time and effort are you pouring into your sellers? Your revenue should be your top priority. If you struggle to make that happen with your sales team, it might be time to outsource that role.

3. Wrong players

It could be that your sales are sluggish because you’ve got the wrong players on your sales team.

The most significant indicator (for me) that a salesperson needs to move on to a different type of role is they always have excuses. Their excuses have excuses—for why they didn’t make the calls or complete the activities necessary to generate opportunities. Reluctance to get on the phone is a red flag.

If you’re the owner/operator/sales director, you may not realize the performance or lack thereof is because the person/s you’ve hired is in the wrong role. It could be you’ve hired someone who isn’t motivated, they’re not gritty enough to persist, or they have all the capabilities but simply won’t do the job. They signed up for a sales role because they want the success and financial rewards but aren’t willing to put in the effort.

Those are called “order takers” and can be hard to weed out when hiring your sales team. They talk a good game, but when it comes to practicing or training, they’re not in it to win it.

Revive your sales floor and avoid the silent sales trap

It’s alarming to hear about silent sales floors where people feel the need to book booths just to make calls without disturbing others. Real sales thrive on lively interactions, not quiet cubicles.

While social media has its place, true selling means engaging buyers in meaningful conversations, often best done through talking. If outbound efforts lack enough phone calls, the sales process is bound to fail.

In high-value or B2B sales, success depends on three key things:

  • Telling the right story: Instead of just talking about ourselves, we should explain why a conversation matters to the other person. Focus on the benefits we can offer them.
  • Using different ways to communicate: One method isn’t enough in today’s world. We must use phones, emails, texts, LinkedIn, and even social media to keep people engaged throughout the sales process.
  • Staying focused and organized: Set aside a specific time each day for calling or following up, and stick to it. Consistency is key to moving customers toward a purchase.

Salespeople need to take charge of their own success, relying on leads from various sources as bonuses, not the primary source. Success comes from hard work and continuous improvement.

Igniting productivity on the sales floor

If you fail to address the minimal activity, lack of phone conversations, and deficiency of customer meetings, your organization will continue to see slow revenue and stagnant sales.

If you walk into your sales department and you see a lot of butts in seats, staring at computers, take a look at the root causes of your “Quiet Selling Syndrome.”

Is it time to get your quiet sales floor humming again? Whether you need to outsource your sales director role or build a brand new Sales Playbook, visit to get solutions to your specific challenges.

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