Everything you need to know about working with top-performing salespeople, including when to leave them alone…and when you need to let them go.
Congratulations! You followed our data and metric-based hiring advice, and you’ve onboarded a top-performing salesperson…now what?!
You may be surprised to discover that sales superstars may respond to your leadership style differently than your current sales team. You might be feeling confused and assuming it’s a “them” problem. Or, there’s a chance you’re questioning if you need to adjust your leadership style to suit the new hire and make it work at all costs.
In this article, we’ll dive into the common characteristics of top sales reps, recommendations on how to be an effective sales leader for top-performing salespeople, and when exactly to fire them if it’s not working out.
Top sales rep qualities..what are you likely to see?
The most essential trait of a top-performing salesperson is they possess the Sales DNA that enables them to get out there and sell like crazy for your business. They’re comfortable talking about money, have a low need for likability and approval, and can control their emotions around the sales process.
The best salespeople are usually smart, driven, adaptable, and willing to take calculated risks. They also tend to possess a high level of emotional intelligence. While I wouldn’t call these qualities essential for becoming a good salesperson, they are often present.
When these traits are combined into one person, you may also find that top performers don’t always fit inside the box. Oftentimes the skills and personality traits that lead them to excel in sales can make them challenging to manage.
Depending on their personality type, they may deal with weaknesses in certain areas like completing admin tasks on time, or responding well to criticism. Your idea of what success looks like may also differ…especially if they’re focused on one metric (deals closed), and you’re looking at all the other metrics and wondering if they’re really keeping up with your expectations.
Signs your top performer may not be a good fit with your organization.
If you’re asking, then you (probably) already have concerns!
Most often we see sales leadership frustrated that the top performer they hired isn’t meeting their numbers in the way the management team is used to. But if someone is closing a lot of deals and getting in front of big companies, does it matter if they aren’t making the specified number of cold calls each day?
Now that may be the case, but you want to be very intentional about determining what success looks like for this role and how you’ll go about measuring that.
Additionally, not doing administrative tasks in a timely manner is often a big issue.
While it is important those tasks get done, if you’ve hired someone who is so hyper-focused on selling that they can’t get the orders into your CRM system, it may be time to look into solutions that keep their numbers high while meeting your need for administrative accountability…I usually suggest hiring an admin to assist the team so that the may have more time to back to focus on the behaviors you really want them to.
Often, I see companies wanting to hold the entire sales team accountable in the same way. While this approach may work for low and mid-performing salespeople, top performers often play by their different rules and require a different level of management that most sales managers are not used to.
So what do you need to know about managing the conflicts that may arise?
When should you avoid conflict with your top-performing sales rep?
If they’re selling, and not causing problems with the team’s morale and culture, you need to let them do what you hired them to do: sell.
Everything else can be worked out in a mutually agreed-upon way so that the sales goals are met, everyone’s skillset is respected, and you have the revenue numbers you were hoping to get when you hired them.
The best way to avoid conflict is to manage it from the start. Set clear ground rules during your onboarding and orientation process. See if there is anything you as the sales leader or business owner can do about the problem. If an issue is minor, try not to make a big deal out of it. Instead, use what you learn while navigating the situation to find a solution that will benefit everyone.
When is it time to fire your top-performing sales rep?
If they’re causing significant disruption, it doesn’t matter how great they’re selling…the minute they start causing problems with office culture, team morale, or worst-case scenario, they appear to be actively sabotaging your business, it is time to let them go.
Sometimes, the best and only way to deal with problem employees is to fire them, even if they are one of your sales superstars. If you don’t terminate the troublemaker, chances are things will not improve, and they will most likely worsen. If that happens, you could lose valuable customers because of this employee.
Don’t put your business at risk because you think they’ll change or they’re so great at bringing in and closing business you somehow think it’s worth it to keep them around.
The good news though, is you don’t have to just sit around waiting for it to get to a bad point before you take action…read on to discover what you can do in the meantime to hedge your bets and ensure the smooth running of your sales team.
What to do until it’s time to fire a sales rep?
If you have concerns about how well your top-performing sales rep is doing at your business, I suggest you start looking for their replacement. Immediately. If there are enough red flags to cause concern, there’s no reason to wait.
I would recommend you first try to figure out what happened to your top performer so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Take a look at the issues at hand. Take a look at yourself as their sales leader and determine what you may have missed. Have a meeting with the salesperson and get their side of the issue…maybe you aren’t as far away from a solution as you think!
Remember that the beautiful thing about a process is that it’s repeatable. If your sales hiring process helped you onboard a top performer once, know you can do it again.
While it will be different to manage top performers, the benefits your company will receive are worth the transformation if you’re willing to go through the journey.
If you need support determining if it’s time to say “see ‘ya” to your top performer, contact me to decide whether you should or if there are some adjustments you can make…our post-hiring analysis can offer you the confirmation that you’re making the right choice in terminating your top performer.