A Client recently shared what happens when they notice a salesperson is not performing as well as they should be or is failing to live up to the Culture Standards of their sales team. It sounded so familiar.
The Sales VP said, "I initially notice something not quite right . . . Then I observe and take notes . . . Then I observe some more and take more notes . . . Then I put them on a performance improvement plan . . . Which most fail to improve. . . I noticed that it all really starts when I begin taking notes . . . When I start taking notes, it is pretty much over for them."
The salesperson from hell . . . I am not referring to the obvious low performing salesperson. If you are smart - you will help your low performers quickly move on.
The "salesperson from hell" is that person who does not quite perform up to par and / or they violate the Culture Standards of your sales team and they are stuck at this performance level.
The fact is - by doing nothing - YOU make this person the "salesperson from hell".
The salesperson from hell is on the edge of hope and hopelessness. The salesperson from hell is in that "middle space" between not performing well enough and performing well enough to give you false hope that they may actually make it.
That "middle space" is what I call the "Performance Edge".
How many times have you kept a salesperson on the "performance edge" longer than you should have?
Your failure to take action to move them out - means you sentence yourself, them, and your team to a time period of emotional rollercoastering, anguish, anger, fear, and eventually loathing. Everyone loses.
While you are definitely not alone, the bad news is these salespeople destroy potential in a significant way if you do not address them (move them up or out).
How many times have you said, "Alright . . . One more time and will I let them go."? Then they go do something smart or perhaps brilliant - or they demonstrate loyalty and you have second thoughts? Or worse yet - they have a life / family issue making you feel like you have to keep them.
I have been-there-done-that. Oh yes I have. Makes me sick reflecting.
Today, I know better.
Yes, I have held onto salespeople longer than I should have and when I finally pulled the trigger... I walked away saying, "I will never do that again. It cost me too much time, energy, money, and sanity." Plus my wife is tired of hearing about it!
Like you, I have several PhDs from the "School of Hard Knocks". I have learned many of the same valuable lessons / insights that you have. It is time for both of us to heed them.
Following are eight powerful signals that indidcate it is time for salesperson on the "performance edge" to go on to "greener pastures".
- You think about their inadequate performance and / or their lack of respect, culture fit, or their attitude, for more than 15 minutes a day over the course of a week.
- You are talking with your coach about how to handle this salesperson - repeatedly.
- You are talking with your significant other about how to handle this salesperson - repeatedly. And/or this salesperson is on your mind when you are not at work.
- You have tried coaching this salesperson several times and it does not seem to be getting anywhere.
- You are confident this salesperson dislikes you and it is getting personal.
- This salesperson enrolls others to take their side. In other words, they are gossiping about how bad you are behind your back.
- Your high performers are noticing that you are not dealing with this issue.
- This salesperson fails the "Fred Test" which is when you ask, "Would I hire "Fred" again?" and the answer is "No."
The biggest signal to me is the "Fred Test". If over the course of a week I ask the question, "Would I hire Fred again?" every day and most days the answer is, "No.", then I know I must take action immediately.
Hey... It is time to stop banging your head against the wall in futility. For whatever reason, that salesperson on the "performance edge" is not working out. It is probably mostly your fault and a little theirs. It is time to get on with your life and them to get on with theirs.
That feeling in your gut . . . It feels strangely familiar to the other times you have been at this point with past salespeople on the "performance edge". You know from experience, prolonging the agony for you and for them is not the right answer.
It is time to take action - to remove salespeople who are permanently on the "Performance Edge".
It is time to help those on the "performance edge" find something to do somewhere else. The sooner the better because the longer you allow them to stay - the more they will damage your culture, your team, your bottom line, and your reputation.
If you are like me, you are asking yourself, "How do I keep this from happening in the first place?"
Glad you asked . . . The answer is likely far easier than you may believe.
Reflect on the hiring process that helped you hire this salesperson on the "performance edge". I would be asking myself, "Where did I go wrong?" Chances are you hired this salesperson based on a "good interview", gut intuition, good references, a nice resume . . .
And that is where you went horribly wrong, my friend... You did not use a valid multi-science sales personality test with validity backed by brain research.
This all could have been prevented.