Do Those Successful At Sales Have To Be Rule Breakers?

Ask the average person to describe a salesperson, and expect to hear words such as “charisma,” “charm” and, in some cases, “rule breakers.” In today’s business world, salespeople are often seen as personalities who bend the rules and stretch guidelines to meet goals.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a real estate agent or a Chicago SEO expert, the salesperson will do whatever he or she has to in order to make a sale. In reality, though, this is not always smart. While breaking the rules can be an asset in some instances, other times it can be a hindrance to success.

Why might salespeople suffer from a break-the-rules mentality? When is being a rule breaker a downside for sales? Here’s a look at the truth about breaking the rules in sales.

  1. Breaking the rules can be self-defeating. A salesperson who wants to be a maverick will often find breaking the rules to be a self-defeating strategy. When you fail to follow company guidelines, you may upset your boss. Upset your boss, and you’re likely to get put on a tighter leash. Suddenly, trying to break the rules has resulted in being micromanaged by someone looking over your shoulder every minute of the day — not exactly a recipe for greater productivity or professional enjoyment.
  2. Breaking the rules often backfires. Salespeople who think breaking the rules is the fastest way to make a sale often pay for their decisions down the line. When you take an order without checking credit as the guidelines require, for example, you may close quickly, but you also may have an order fall through due to a customer’s poor credit. When breaking the rules is all about cutting corners, it rarely leads to success.
  3. Breaking the rules is often about misunderstanding. In most corporations, rules are in place for good reason. Salespeople who break those rules don’t understand the damage they’re causing, and the problem is usually a lack of communication from management. If the company educated its salespeople on why rules exist, it’d be much easier to encourage compliance companywide. It would also prevent unnecessary problems or complications caused by salespeople going rogue.
  4. Breaking the rules sometimes makes sense. The best reason for a salesperson to break the rules is because the rules are arbitrary. It’s not that the salesperson doesn’t understand them; it’s that the company shouldn’t have the rules to begin with. In these cases, it makes sense for salespeople to challenge the guidelines — the system is inviting them to do so, particularly if those arbitrary rules make sales more difficult. Making salespeople play by unnecessary rules and expecting them to be handcuffed as a result is a recipe for disaster.

There’s no denying that companies need rules to operate. They are essential to everyday procedures and ultimate success of the business. When it comes to sales, however, it’s vital that rules make sense to the team. For the business that wants to empower its salespeople to generate more clients and move the company forward, clear communication is vital. And for the salesperson who wants to hit targets and achieve goals, knowing when — and when not — to break rules is vital.

Author bio: Shanna Mallon is a senior copywriter for Straight North, a Chicago web design firm providing specialized SEO, web development and other online marketing services.


"In today’s business world, salespeople are often seen as personalities who bend the rules and stretch guidelines to meet goals."

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