Monday, September 15, 2008

The Cry Baby Sales Person What Should We Do

Writen by Rick Johnson

Rick, I have a salesman that does a pretty good job but he is always whining about something. He takes up a tremendous amount of my time, inside sales and anybody else that will listen. I don't want to fire the guy because he does put up decent numbers. What do you suggest?

Joe, VP of Sales, Building Products Industry

Dear Joe;

Wow! If I used this term with my wife she'd probably take my head off but you have what is typically known as a high maintenance "Cry Baby Salesperson"

This condition is known as "High Affliative Needs". It can be a sales person's downfall. We all have affiliative needs but for a sales person, if they become excessive, they can undermine any real talent they have. This type of person is generally a very likable person and can strike up a conversation about anything, anywhere. That is why they seem to achieve relative success in field sales. But remember, if this person is wasting your time due to this condition, chances are, some or most of his customers feel the same way. You need to find out.

The question you need to ask yourself: "Is this sales person maximizing the full potential of his territory in market share, profitability and share of spend at existing accounts?

The answer to that question will determine whether you must coach, mentor or manage this individual.


• If he is attaining peak territory performance. Become a confidant and be totally honest with him. When his points are valid – acknowledge that. When he is just whining --- let him know. Be constructive and supportive. Encourage him. Give him examples and help him come to the same conclusions about each situation as you do.


• Since you stated he put up decent numbers, it sounds like he is worth your investment of time. Start with the numbers. What should peak performance in his territory be? Set some stretch goals. Work with him utilizing your sales expertise in targeting, goal setting and action planning to achieve these stretch goals. During the process, his high maintenance, affiliative needs should be apparent. Demonstrate how they can interfere with the achievement of his goals.


Some managing is certainly mixed in with the coaching process but if coaching doesn't do the trick and he is actually performing below territory expectations it may be time to get tough. Stick with objective facts. Stick with the numbers. Clearly define expectations and stick to them.

Dr. Rick Johnson ( is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in leadership for wholesale distribution. CEO Strategist LLC. works in an advisory capacity with company executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit for more information.

Rick received an MBA from Keller Graduate School in Chicago, Illinois and a Bachelor's degree in Operations Management from Capital University, Columbus Ohio. Rick recently completed his dissertation on Strategic Leadership and received his Ph.D. He's also a published book author with four titles to his credit: "The Toolkit for Improved Business Performance in Distribution," the NWFA & NAFCD "Roadmap", Lone Wolf-Lead Wolf—The Evolution of Sales" and a fiction novel "Shattered Innocence." Rick's next book due in November is titled; Lone Wolf – LEad Wolf The Evolution of Leadership

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