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Sales: Managing a Sales Force: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
A member of an entrepreneur group I am in asked an interesting question on managing a sales department. The question was posed in a suppositional tone. What would do you do if you had a superstar salesperson that significantly outperforms all the other salespeople but marches to the beat of his own drum?
Specifically, this individual would rarely attend sales meetings and is habitually late for nearly all non-sales related, company events. The situation became a problem when other members of the department had begun imitating the star’s rogue behavior, but were not achieving the same extraordinary sales results.
It could become a situation that put the sales manager in the hot seat. So, how does a manager remain a good leader in the eyes of the entire department, manage decorum, and keep the department moving in the right direction?
This is a scenario where the mettle of the manager would be thoroughly tested. It also would be an opportunity where marketing, salesmanship, and leadership could be applied to turn this problem into a unifying experience for all concerned parties. What should the manager do? Perhaps, a three-step process would work best.
The first thing to do would be to have a private meeting with your top salesperson. It is vital to inform the superstar that they are negatively influencing other members of the department. Ask the individual for their assistance to make the entire department better. Additionally, tell that top producer that while you are willing to meet them half way and grant special concessions due to their performance status. However, it is important to stress that if their numbers falter then the special liberties also will go away.
The second step is conduct private meetings with all the imitators of best salesman. It is crucial that you emphasize that you are trying to be as fair as possible. Tell each member of your staff that if they want to receive “star treatment,” they’re going to have to put up exemplary sales numbers as well. While it may not be that fair across the board, at least you have added a method to justify your edict.
The plan would conclude with a group meeting that, essentially, summarizes what was said privately in the previous meetings. The manager would no longer be playing favorites and the team members understand their value to the company and how to earn those special perks. It is possible that the sales star will pitch in more, because they have received recognition for being special.
Managing a superstar sales producer is a problem most managers would embrace. However, if the boss ignores this potentially toxic situation instead of addressing it, the team will lose respect for the leader. This would only lead to a new set of problems. What would you do?
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