The Top Salesperson Who Doesn’t Play Nice – A Truly Tough HR Issue

I was recently asked my opinion of the toughest HR issue.

Obviously there are a number, as it is still the most critical responsibility of management.

For me that tough issue is in the sales arena and has two guises.
1. The first is the super salesman who invariably has the most outstanding sales performance and results. However their culture and value system is not consistent with the organization or the rest of the sales team. And it usually is extreme inconsistency.

As tough as it is, the only options with this scenario are that they adapt and fit in to the culture (rare) or alternatively they must be asked to leave.

As an interesting analogy, the three outstanding soccer players at the recent World Cup in Brazil were Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez and yet their teams were not successful. It was the German team, who literally played as a team without one of the world stars, who were the eventual winners.

In the salesman example: When the cultural sales misfit issue is resolved, the positive change in morale of the team more than compensates with increased sales performance.

2. The second issue is more challenging but also in the sales arena. It is a common phenomenon where a superb sales person is promoted to Sales Management or higher. However they focus almost exclusively on their own sales activities and devote little time to their real responsibility of effectively managing, motivating, training and coaching their sales team. This invariably results in a poorly managed result from the rest of the team as well as demotivation, lack of commitment and in due course the good people leave. And of course if the “manager” is absent, sales tumble dramatically.
In my experience the only effective and positive solution is to move the person into a specialist sales role with a fancy title, plus excellent remuneration, but a completely independent silo without staff to manage. And if they don’t buy into that situation then they need to pursue their career elsewhere.

The key requirement of any managerial role, is to recruit, orient, train, motivate and retain the best team for their area of responsibility.

The Sales Management role in particular requires absolute commitment to :
– Team selection and development
– Coaching and motivation
– Sales support
– Personnel support
– Sales strategy development
– Client management
– Deal closing
– Strategic client interface
– Management of key success factors including pipeline management
– Regular sales meetings
– Regular sales one on ones

Invariably when we are faced with one of these situations we agonise over the tough decision required. However when we eventually take the necessary remedial action the positive changes exceed our expectations.

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