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In his bestselling book Hire Right, Higher Profits, author Lee Salz argues that companies need to start viewing and evaluating salespeople as major investments in revenue, not just as a headcount or rack that must be filled.

Lee shares tips on how to identify the factors that affect revenue investment performance, and how to evaluate candidates to get a fast, high return on this revenue investment. Among all the traits and best practices he suggests, his most important recommendation might be this:

Don’t let one bad sales rep sink your whole team.

In the same way one bad apple can ruin a whole bushel of perfectly crisp and juicy apples, a bad rep can have the same deleterious effect on your team. Here’s how:

Pride is the downfall

A “bad” rep can take many shapes and forms. Most people would think of bad reps as those who are poor at their jobs and regularly miss quota, but rock star reps who consistently surpass their quota can still be bad influences. How? By being too hubristic.

Top performers who find their names constantly at the top of sales leaderboards might see their heads swell. The extra visibility and attention they receive typically leads to increased arrogance. That creates an emotionally-charged workplace and dynamic that breeds petty jealousy and resentment among your other reps. Furthermore, being as competitive as they are, these successful reps might be disinclined to share their tricks of the trade. Such pride and selfishness – at the expense of the team – cannot be tolerated.

Bad habits can spread quickly

Some superstar reps are known to be lone wolves as well, working outside the system and with their own process that flies in the face of everything your sales playbook preaches. Some of the younger reps might see this success and want to emulate your rep. However, what works for the lone wolf might not work for other reps; that’s why you preach and teach a process that works for everyone. Good sales reps who are eager to learn relish sales coaching sessions; selfish reps will shun them. A sales rep who encourages bad habits to the detriment of the overall team must be taken care of before his bad influence spreads further.

Learn More About Metrics-Based Sales Coaching»

Nobody likes a downer

Another type of “bad” sales rep is the one with the poor attitude. You know exactly what I’m talking about – unhealthy body language, a sullen look affixed to their face, constantly complaining to and gossiping with their peers. For whatever reason, even when things go well for the individual and the team, this rep just has a perpetually negative attitude. Nothing spreads faster than a negative attitude; keep this rep around long enough and you might soon have a team full of Negative Nancy’s.

Laurels should never be rested on

Another example of a bad sales rep is one who just ekes past her goal line month after month. Why is this bad? Crawling past the goal line on the last day of the month time after time could be a sign of complacency. This rep is so satisfied with just meeting their goals – nothing more, nothing less – that they’ve stopped pushing themselves to their absolute limits and have begun resting comfortably on their laurels. You know what happens when other reps see this? They think that they too can rest on their laurels. Pretty soon, you have an incredibly complacent team. Complacency and comfort has no place on a high-growth sales team with aggressive – and growing – sales goals.
If you see one or more of your sales reps displaying the aforementioned behaviors, you have to nip it in the bud, and quickly. Sales reps spend a lot of time working very closely with each other; bad habits can spread very easily if not addressed and controlled early. If the guilty rep isn’t willing to change their bad behaviors? It might very well be time to throw that apple out, before you have to get rid of the whole bushel.

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  • Lone Wolf Sales Dude

    Gareth, if the sales playbook is so good, why does the lone wolf sell so much more than the others that “follow the playbook rules”? And why then would it still be preached? The best salesmen are loners by nature; they’re quicker, more intuitive, better communicators, and they’re not going to wait around for others to “get it”. Also, your audience does not include “the boss”; they are in it for profit and growth, not so everyone can feel cozy on a team of followers. I’m sick of this “community” nonsense being jammed down our throats; a great salesperson is a great thinker – all on their own – and you may remember the saying, “There is nobody dumber than all of us.” The advice I would give is this: get everything that would slow a lone wolf down out of the way and then watch, listen, and learn. A lone wolf’s ways work. Very well.

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