Some people just have to make any and everything difficult. They refused to be managed, coached, or listen to anything that is contrary to what they believe and what they will or will not do. This is especially worse when it is a salesperson who brings in good numbers. Ain’t nobody gonna tell him what to do cause if you don’t like it, he’ll just quit. In essence, these types of salespeople derive a certain pleasure from holding their sales managers and the company hostage They put you in a darned-if-you-do-darned-if-you-don’t arrangement that gives them complete control at the expense of the rest of the team and your leadership. Who’s the boss?
When I say difficult salesperson, I mean someone who is truly disruptive and undermines the company and its process. They do not demonstrate the right attitude and behaviors, they act unprofessionally, focus only on themselves and they undermine leadership and policy any chance they get. Even worse, they carry themselves with a sense of diplomatic immunity and encourage others to be defiant as well. They just constantly set a bad example over your core values, but you really need the sales. Is this a hill that you are prepared to die on? If you do nothing, you may die on it eventually anyway. However, there is a good chance that you are dealing with a classic bully, and bullies must be dealt with. I’m sorry to inform you that the end result may come down to termination, but it almost never does. Besides, recovering from these kinds of losses may be inevitable yet easier to overcome than you think. But, let’s plan for the best by having the right conversation with the right person in the right way.
- Remain calm – It is way too easy to get your emotions involved when dealing with difficult salespeople. They will do everything they can to make sure that you lose your cool so they can gain control of the situation. Resist every urge, keep calm and focused on your desired outcome.
- Discuss the performance, not the person – Discussing a person’s character becomes subjective and argumentative. Once the person becomes defensive because you make it about them, any progress in the conversation will cease. Talk about what they do and not who they are.
- Create clear expectations – Leave nothing to chance here. This part of the conversation should definitely include potential consequences. If you are firm and fair at this point, most reasonable people will want to keep their job and are willing to begin the compliance process. If not, there is a good chance that you need this person off your team sooner than later.
- Create a PIP – A Performance Improvement Plan demonstrates not only how serious you are, but your level of concern about performance, behaviors, and attitudes. Change won’t happen overnight, but a good PIP will get everyone headed in the right direction. If things ultimately don’t work out, then there won’t be any surprises.
- Use good management follow through – It is important to sustain any course correction by managing the process, structure, communication, environment, and goals of the salesperson. There is a reason why things fell through the cracks, and it is up to you to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.