The Effect that Good and Bad Apples have on your Sales Team

18 Sep

A “great” salesperson isn’t just a performer – he/she is a team player who is able to help co-workers due to their experience from past challenges and successes. A “bad” salesperson isn’t only a poor individual performer, they are a bad employee even as they attempt to sell for the organization.

I often talk about the importance of hiring strong salespeople, but today I’m sharing a true story about the positive impact of a great salesperson – and another example of the ramifications of keeping a bad salesperson.

The Good Apple

A few years ago, I was consulting with a company and running their monthly sales meeting. Other than their monthly meeting and separate one-on-ones with their leadership, I had little contact with the salespeople outside of those two hours a month. My job was to run a great meeting and motivate the salespeople while keeping them on track.

What the meeting was lacking was a veteran salesperson. I asked ownership why their top three performers weren’t required to attend the meeting and convinced them that we needed to have the best of the three present at the next three sales meetings.

We quickly determined that Julie was their best all-around salesperson. She knew which suspects made great prospects… she knew how to balance the workload and pressure of hitting her goals… and Julie knew how to close.

Because I wasn’t a full-time salesperson in the company, Julie was better equipped to share real examples with the greener group of 8 salespeople. I asked Julie to attend three meetings and basically, made her a one-person panel.

  1. At the first meeting, I asked her 10 questions about lead generation and the activities she focused on in order to always have enough prospects in her sales pipeline.
  2. In the second meeting, I focused my 10 questions on targeting and qualifying. Which suspects and prospects deserved her time?
  3. In the third meeting, it was all about the close. How did she hit her record numbers over the past year? Exactly what was her sales process all the way to close? She knew the questions that I was going to ask ahead of time and never failed to show up prepared with great examples and stories.

WWJD?

By the end of that third meeting, I saw the sales team’s eyes light up. For the next few months it was WWJD – What Would Julie Do? We talked about how she built up her base of clients over the last four years. We discussed her obstacles and how she overcame them. The effect she had on that group as a significant sales performer was immeasurable. By the end of that year, the company had surpassed their 16% projections – mainly because of the newer group of salespeople getting out of the gate faster than expected. I give most of the credit to Julie.

The Bad Apple

This past year, I had a 6-month project working with a software company. Before I started the engagement, we gave a sales assessment to the entire team of 11 salespeople. 4 of them were clearly wired for sales. 6 of them seemed coachable and had the potential to become top performers. One was an obvious misfit for the sales role.

Thomas was the sore thumb. He had been there for two years and hit his goals just once out of all eight quarters. I joined him on a sales call and caught him out-right lying to a prospect. As I dug in, I realized that there were two tough customers the company worked with – both clients had been landed by Thomas. In my second month, a project manager shared with me that there had recently been an issue with a client that had been promised a delivery date that wasn’t humanly possible. Guess who was behind that promise? Thomas.

Thomas showed up to half of the internal meetings late. He blew me off as someone that couldn’t help him with his sales process. He had a likeable personality and supposedly a huge rolodex when he was hired, but he wasn’t a good salesperson.

The year prior, half of the salespeople hadn’t hit their numbers. It didn’t seem to be a problem with their software, operations or delivery. The problem seemed to rest squarely on the sales team’s lack of activities. And Thomas had the least phone calls, least appointments and fewest proposals the prior quarter.

Harvard Review recently did a study (https://bit.ly/2FrduBJ) and found that “employees are 37% more likely to commit misconduct if they encounter a co-worker with a history of misconduct. This result implies that misconduct has a social multiplier of 1.59 — meaning that, on average, each case of misconduct results in an additional 0.59 cases of misconduct through peer effects.”

I convinced management to cut ties with Thomas. Without his negative presence, I’m confident that most of this team will hit their 3rd and 4th quarter numbers if they commit to the activities. For those underperforming, their chances probably doubled the day he walked out the door.

The bad apple exists in most companies. If he/she sits in the sales team, they are costing you real money. Good apples pay dividends – not just in terms of their individual production, but the amazing effect that they can have on the rest of the team.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

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