We spend a great deal of time talking about how to handle poor performing sales people, those who are not making their numbers. Those who just can’t seem to get out there and visit customers, those who just cannot seem to be able to get an appointment or close a sale.
There are been hundreds of books and columns written on this subject. But how many books have been written about the extraordinary sales person? The one who is far above the rest of the team. The one who always seems to be able to not only get appointments, but land those big orders as well.
In sales meetings, you will be able to recognize this super salesperson by his or her silence. While everyone else is complaining and whining about not being to do whatever it is they need to do, blaming everything from unfair offshore competition, to price gouging on the part of their competitors, to lousy leads, to poor products, to the weather, to the fact that’s Tuesday, or Friday. Whatever you’ve got, these poor performers will use it as an excuse for why they are not making their numbers.
The great sales person sits there never saying a word. Just listening to the rest of the team whine. Sometimes this person will have a look on her face, this tight little smile, like she knows something the rest of the team does not know. And of course, she does. She knows how to get out there and get business without breaking a sweat. He knows how to get those sales appointments and make them meaningful to the point of booking orders. These are the people who have learned to just get out there and do it. The ones who have grace under pressure. Remember the definition of grace is keeping your head about you while everyone else is losing theirs.
So, one would think that this person would be easy to manage. That this winner would be a great asset to the team, to the point of raising everyone else’s level of success. But alas, this is not always true. There can be some problems with managing this kind of person some special problems. Here are some of the most prevalent issues with managing extraordinary salespeople and what you can do about them.
The first problem is that these winners are not always team players. They look out for themselves and anyone in their way to success, better watch out. Often, you will find some who are nice people, but more often, their philosophy is every man for himself. You’ll discover this when you try to develop some team-oriented projects. They will be the ones who will hold back, not really contribute to the good of the team.
I have found that the best way to treat these people, is to use their “greatness” to your advantage. Show them how good they are, and how much they can contribute to the good of the team. Encourage them to show their stuff to the rest of the team. They love being important and they love being acknowledged as the best and so they will go along with you and everyone will win. In short, make them the teacher or mentor for the rest of the team, and you will get the best you possibly can out of them.
The second problem is their lack of loyalty. These special people are out for themselves and they will do anything for the good of, yes, themselves. This means that you must keep them interested, motivated, and challenged or they will jump ship. The most difficult challenge you will have when managing great sales people is holding on to them. Let them know that they are the best. Give them rewards for being the best. Get to know them and find out what makes them tick, what turns them on. Is it fame, recognition or is it money? Obviously, you want to keep these great producers, so find out what turns them on and them make sure you keep giving it to them.
And the final problem is that they will get bored. Ironic, isn’t it that while the rest of the team is struggling to keep their numbers up and their heads above water these “pros from Dover” have developed such a streamlined sales process that they are bored with their everyday professional life and bored with their own success. It’s as though, it has all become too easy. So, your job as their manager is to keep them challenged. Give them tough assignments. Send them out to book some almost “impossible to win” accounts, do whatever you can to challenge them. And the bonus is that you will win business that you never thought you would win, and you will keep your sales person around looking at you for the next big impossible dream challenge.
If you are lucky enough to have one of these sales superstars on your team. Make them team leaders, offer them great incentives for staying around, and give them big enough challenges so that they will never want to leave. If you do these things, you will reap the rewards of having one of these talented prodigies on your team for many years to come. It’s only common sense.